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THE  'OLD  WATER-COLOUR'  SOCIETY 


VOL.  I. 


PRINTED     BY 

SPOTTISWOOUB    AND    CO.,     NEW-STREET    SQUAB 
LONDON 


A    HISTORY 


OF   THE 


'OLD  WATER-COLOUR'   SOCIETY 

NOW 

IRosal  Society  of  painters  in  Mater  Colours 


WITH  BIOGRAPHICAL  NOTICES  OF  ITS  OLDER 

AND  OF  ALL  DECEASED    MEMBERS 

AND  ASSOCIATES 


PRECEDED  BY  AN 

ACCOUNT    OF    ENGLISH    WATER-COLOUR    ART    AND    ARTISTS    IN    THE 
EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY 


BY 


JOHN    LEWIS    ROGET 
III 


IN    TWO    VOLUMES 
VOL.  I. 


LONDON 
LONGMANS,     GREEN,     AND     CO 

AND  NEW  YORK  :  15  EAST  i6«-  STREET 
1891 

All    rights     rtserrtd 


/7/J 

R1-R7 


V.  I 


762*745 


PREFACE 


To  form  a  just  estimate  of  a  work  of  art,  some  acquaintance  with  the 
artist's  intention,  and  the  conditions  under  which  his  labour  has  been 
performed,  is  generally  indispensable.  For  without  an  adequate  per- 
ception of  its  aim,  the  critic  may  be  misled,  to  complain  of  the 
absence  of  qualities  which  have  been  purposely  suppressed,  to  give 
praise  to  others  that  are  foreign  to,  and  may  even  detract  from,  the 
1  expression  of  its  leading  motive,  and  to  charge  the  artist  with  defects 
which  may  be  inherent  in  the  materials  or  implements  of  his  art,  or 
due  to  its  prescribed  limitations.  If  this  be  true  of  works  of  the 
pencil,  it  is  no  less  so  of  those  of  the  pen.  To  avoid  such  misconcep- 
tions, as  well  as  to  apportion  justly  the  responsibilities  of  authorship, 
the  following  personal  statement  is  laid  before  the  reader. 

The  original  conception  of  this  work  is  due  to  the  late  JOSEPH 
JOHN  JENKINS,  long  a  Member,  and  for  some  time  Secretary,  of  the 
(now  Royal)  Society  of  Painters  in  Water  Colours,  who  for  many 
years,  as  time  and  opportunity  served,  and  as  (it  must  unhappily  be 
added)  his  own  fragile  health  permitted,  was  engaged  in  collecting 
materials  for  the  compilation  of  a  history  which,  had  it  ever  been 
written,  might  more  or  less  have  resembled  this.  I  had  had  no 
thought  of  being  connected  with  such  an  undertaking  until,  in  the 
month  of  October,  1884,  I  was  honoured  by  a  proposal  conveyed  to 
me  by  my  friends  Mr.  (now  Sir)  Oswald  W.  Brierly  and  Mr.  Edward 
A.  Goodall,  on  the  joint  behalf  of  the  Council  of  the  above-named 
Society  and  of  Mr.  Jenkins  himself,  that  I  should  make  an  endeavour 
to  carry  into  effect  the  scheme,  which  his  fast-failing  strength  had 


vi  PREFACE 

compelled  him  to'  relinquish.  This,  after  one  short  interview  with 
that  gentleman,  when  he  instructed  me  very  briefly  as  to  the  nature 
of  his  projected  book,  I  expressed  my  willingness  to  do.  It  was  my 
only  communication  with  him  on  the  subject,  except  to  acknowledge 
the  receipt  by  instalments  in  the  course  of  the  next  four  months  of 
so  much  of  his  manuscript  notes  as  he  had  time  and  strength  to 
arrange;  and  he  died  on  the  9th  of  March,  1885.  Some  further 
memoranda,  apparently  reserved  for  similar  revision,  were  afterwards 
obtained  from  his  miscellaneous  manuscripts  and  correspondence. 

'  The  papers  thus  placed  in  my  hands,  which  had  to  be  dealt  with 
to  the  best  of  my  unaided  judgment,  consisted  chiefly  of  notes  for 
separate  biographies,  mostly  of  members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society, 
but  some  of  artists  who  flourished  and  died  before  that  body  came 
into  being  ;  and  they  also  comprised  a  careful  series  of  extracts  from 
the  Society's  Minutes,  from  its  foundation  in  1804  to  the  year  1863, 
with  some  notes  of  the  circumstances  of  its  actual  birth  and  origin. 
There  was  little   or  nothing  in  the  shape  of  continuous  narrative 
forming  a  history  either  of  the  Society  or  of  Water-Colour  Art ;  and, 
moreover,  the  quantity  of  biographical  information  was  very  unequally 
apportioned  among  the  names  entered  on  the  roll.     Of  the  lives  of 
some,   especially  those  of  the  earlier   artists,1   there   were  full  and 
interesting  details  hitherto   unpublished,  while    in    other   cases   the 
record  was  an  absolute  blank.     Unless,  therefore,  I  had  been  content 
to  treat  the  matter  offered  for  publication  as  no  more  than  a  collec- 
tion  or   commonplace-book   of  literary  and   artistic    notes,  and   to 
issue   it  in  that  fragmentary  form,  there  seemed  to  be   no  way  of 
utilizing  the  whole,  without  entering  upon  the  laborious  task  of  com- 
piling a  history  of  sufficient  scope  to  comprehend  it  all,  together  with 
a  necessarily  large  mass  of  supplementary  matter,  which  would  have 
to  be  gathered  from  other  sources.     With  this  task  I  determined  to 
grapple.     I  was  not  prepared,  however,  to  undertake  the  compilation 
of  a  complete  or  exhaustive  history  of  Water-Colour  Art.     This  was 
unnecessary  for  the  purpose,  and  the  choice  of  a  more  limited  scope 
was,  I  think,  justified  by  the  bulk  which  these  volumes  have  attained 

1  Notably  in  those  of  Cristall,  Glover,  Nicholson,  and  Varley. 


PREFACE  vii 

without  such  further  extension,  and  by  the  unexpected  length  of  time 
which  has  been  required  to  complete  them.  In  accordance,  however, 
with  what  appears  to  have  been  Mr.  Jenkins's  first  intention,  I  have 
not  thought  it  necessary  to  confine  this  history  either  to  a  bare  record 
of  the  proceedings  of  the  '  Old  Water-Colour  Society '  with  the  con- 
tents of  its  exhibitions,  and  notices  of  the  lives  of  its  members. 
Taking  advantage  of  its  acknowledged  representative  position,  I  have 
considered  its  annals  as  forming  an  integral  part  of  the  history  of 
water-colour  painting  in  England,  and  have  endeavoured  to  define  its 
relations  wilh  other  co-existent  bodies,  and  with  the  general  world  of 
Art.  As,  moreover,  the  parentage  and  descent,  as  well  as  the  birth, 
of  the  subject  are  usually  recorded  in  a  biographical  memoir,  so  I 
have  included  some  account  not  only  of  the  immediate  events  which 
led  to  the  founding  of  the  Society  of  Painters  in  Water  Colours,  but 
of  its  remoter  origin  in  the  practice  of  water-colour  art  during  the 
eighteenth  century.  In  this  preliminary  history  of  the  school,  notices 
will  be  found  of  the  leading  draftsmen  of  the  prior  period,  and  a 
particular  account  of  the  life  and  times  of  Turner's  early  contemporary, 
Thomas  Girtin.  The  chronicle  of  the  Society  is  carried  down  to  the 
present  time,  and  the  set  of  biographical  notices  is  rendered  so  far  com- 
plete as  to  include  those  of  all  the  deceased,  together  with  such  of  the 
living  Members  and  Associates  as  exhibited  works  in  the  Gallery 
before  the  death  of  the  President  Copley  Fielding  in  1 85  5.  In  compil- 
ing these  numerous  biographies,  I  have  endeavoured  to  render  them 
of  service  to  collectors  and  students,  by  affording  information 
respecting  the  number,  subjects,  sale  prices,  and  special  gatherings  of 
the  artists'  works,  and  by  furnishing  such  lists  as  I  could  gather  of 
published  prints  after  their  designs.  These  last  will  also  serve  to 
illustrate  the  intimate  connexion  which  has  always  existed  between 
our  school  of  draftsmen  and  the  engraver's  art.  While  some  attempt 
has  generally  been  made  to  estimate  the  quality  of  the  art  of  indi- 
vidual painters,  as  well  as  to  define  its  scope,  I  have  desired  to  abstain 
as  much  as  might  be  from  the  intrusion  of  original  criticism,  under 
the  belief  that  a  record  of  received  and  contemporary  opinion  would 
not  only  be  of  greater  value,  but  be  more  appropriate  to  the  impartial 


viii  PREFACE 

character  of  a  purely  historical  account.  At  the  same  time  it  is  im- 
possible, in  treating  of  a  subject  such  as  the  present,  to  divest  oneself 
entirely  of  the  bias  of  natural  tastes  and  predilections.  Besides  the 
facts  above  referred  to,  which  appertain  to  the  several  artists'  graphic 
works,  I  have  readily  admitted  into  the  accounts  of  their  lives  such 
incidents  of  a  general  nature  as  appeared  to  throw  light  upon  character 
or  personal  qualities,  or  to  be  calculated  to  impart  an  individual 
interest  to  the  several  narratives,  even  at  the  risk  of  extending  some 
of  them  beyond  their  due  proportions.  This  I  have  done  in  the 
belief  that  such  acquaintance  with  an  artist's  personality  gives  an 
added  interest  to  the  work  of  his  hand  ;  and,  moreover,  that  in  the 
narrower  circle  of  Art,  as  in  the  world  at  large  — 

There  is  a  history  in  all  men's  lives 
Figuring  the  nature  of  the  times  deceased. 

The  great  extent  to  which  I  am  indebted,  not  only  to  the  memo- 
randa of  the  late  Mr.  Jenkins,  but  to  other  authorities  published  and 
•  unpublished,  is,  I  trust,  duly  acknowledged  throughout  the  following 
pages ;  but  I  have  also  to  express  my  gratitude  for  much  valued  and 
kindly  aid  received  alike  from  friends  and  strangers  (almost  without 
exception)  to  whom  I  have  applied  for  information,  both  in  furnishing 
facts  and  in  revising  some  of  the  biographies. 

In  order  to  render  the  contents  of  these  volumes  the  more  available 
for  easy  reference,  without  unduly  incumbering  the  pages  of  the 
Index,  I  have  therein  classified  to  some  extent,  on  a  uniform  system, 
under  the  names  of  the  several  artists,  the  facts  referred  to  in  their 
respective  biographies. 

JOHN   L.   ROGET. 


5  RANDOLPH  CRESCENT,  MAIDA  HILL,  LONDON,  W.  : 
March  1891 


SYNOPSIS    OF    CONTENTS 

(  Volume  I  contains  Books  I  to  VI,  Volume  II  Books  VII  to  X.) 

INTRODUCTION 
WATER-COLOUR   DRAWING   AND   PAINTING 

BOOK    I 

WATER-COLOUR   ART   IN    THE    EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY 

Chapter  I.  Early  Topographic  prints.  II.  Sandby  and  the  Rise  of  Exhibitions. 
III.  Gentlemen's  Seats— Architectural  Topography.  IV.  Picturesque  Topography. 
V.  Travelling  Artists ;  and  Alexander  Cozens.  VI.  John  Cozens  and  John  Smith. 
VII.  Teachers,  Draftsmen,  and  Dilettanti. 

BOOK    II 
THE   LIFE   AND   TIMES  OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN 

Chapter  I.  Turner  and  Girtin  as  Students  and  Reformers.  II.  Girtin  and  his  Companions. 
III.  The  Last  years  of  Girtin.  IV.  Girtin  and  Turner  as  Contemporary  Artists. 

BOOK    III 
THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY 

Chapter  I.  Exhibitors'  Grievances— Wells  and  Shelley.  II.  Hills,  Pyne,  and  Pocock. 
III.  Nicholson.  IV.  The  Varleys  ;  Nattes  ;  and  Gilpin.  V.  The  Society  Founded 
—  Barret  and  Cristall.  VI.  Glover,  Havel!,  Holworthy,  and  Rigaud. 

BOOK  IV 

THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,    1805-1812 

Chapter  I.  In  Brook  Street,  1805,  1806.  II.  In  Pall  Mall  and  Bond  Street,  1807,  1808. 
III.  At  Spring  Gardens,  1809  to  1812.  IV.  Fall  of  the  First  Society. 


x  SYNOPSIS    OF    CONTENTS 

BOOK   V 
THE   OIL  AND   WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,    1813-1820 

Chapter  I.  A  New  Society.  II.  Members  of  the  Old  Society.  III.  John  Varley. 
IV.  Landscape ;  and  the  Rising  School.  V.  Ackermann  ;  and  some  of  his  Draftsmen. 
VI.  Some  Figure  Painters.  VII.  William  Hunt  ;  and  other  Exhibitors.  VIII.  Restor- 
ation of  the  Water-Colour  Society. 

BOOK   VI 
THE   PRESIDENCY   OF   CRISTALL,    1821-183! 

Chapter  I.  Settlement  in  Pall  Mall  East.  II.  The  old  Members.  III.  Scholars  ol 
the  old  School.  IV.  Prout;  and  the  Architects.  V.  Later  Picturesque  Landscape. 
VI.  Figures,  Animals,  and  Still  Life. 

BOOK   VII 
THE   PRESIDENCIES   OF   FIELDING   AND   HIS   SUCCESSORS 

Chapter  I.  The  Presidency  of  Fielding,  1832-1855.  II.  Deaths  and  Retirements, 
1838-1847.  III.  Deaths  and  Retirements,  1848-1855.  IV.  The  Presidency  of  Lewis, 
1855-1858.  V.  The  Presidency  of  Tayler,  1858-1870.  VI.  The  Presidency  of 
Gilbert. 

BOOK    VIII 
OLD   MEMBERS   WHO   SURVIVED   FIELDING 

Chapter  I.  Exits,  :856-i859.     II.  Exits,  1859-1862.     III.  Exits,  1863-1865.    IV.  Exits, 

1866-1889. 

BOOK   IX 
ACCESSIONS   UNDER   FIELDING 

Chapter  I.    New    Associates,    1832-1837.     II.   New    Associates,     1838-1847.     III.   New 
Associates,  1848-1849.     IV.   New  Associates,  1850-1854. 

BOOK   X 

LATER   MEMBERS   AND   ASSOCIATES   DECEASED 
Chapter  I.   Deaths  1855-18^1.     II.   Deaths  since  1881. 


CONTENTS    OF    VOLUME   I 


INTRODUCTION 

WATER-COLOUR   DRAWING   AND   PAINTING 

PAGE 

The  first  water-colour  exhibition — Nature  of  modern  water-colour  art — Transparent 
pigments— Development  of  practice— From  monochrome  to  local  colour  — Influence 
of  national  taste.  ............  1-6 


BOOK    I 

WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY 


CHAPTER   I 
EARLY   TOPOGRAPHIC   PRINTS 

Water-colours  developed  in  application  to  landscape — First  demand  for  simple  topo- 
graphy—Allied more  to  history  than  to  poetry — Architect  draftsmen — Maps  and 
bird's-eye  views— Hollar,  Loggan,  and  Burghers—'  Britannia  Illustrata' — Demand 
for  '  gentlemen's  seats  ' — Conventional  perspective — Light-and-shade  not  .used  for 
'effect '—Buck's  views — Low  state  of  art — Boydell— Kirby — Highmore — Scott  .  7~'7 


CHAPTER   II 

SANDBY  AND  THE   RISE  OF   EXHIBITIONS 

Paul  and  Thomas  Sandby — Born  at  Nottingham — Military  draftsmen  at  the  Tower — 
The  Stuart  rebellion— Go  to  Scotland— Paul's  etchings— At  Windsor — Founding  of 
Art  Societies— Influence  of  exhibitions— P.  Sandby's  art — Want  of  materials — 
Elected  R.A.— T.  Sandby's  career— Paul  at  St.  George's  Row— Teacher  at  Wool- 
wich—Patrons—Sir Joseph  Banks— Charles  Greville— Aquatint  engraving — 
Sandby's  water-colours — His  work  as  an  engraver  ......  18-31 


xii  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER    III 

GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS— ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY 

FACE 

Wedgwood's  Russian  service — An  impetus  to  topographic  art — Kearsley's  '  Copper- 
Plate  Magazine'— E.  Rooker — M.  A.  Rooker — '  Virtuosi's  Museum  ' — 'Oxford 
Almanack' — Watts's,  Milton's,  and  Angus's  '  Seats '—Advance  in  line-engraving 
— Woollett  —  Byrne — Hearne — Middiman — Byrne's  '  Antiquities ' — Rooker  and 
Hearne  compared — Architectural  draftsmen — The  Maltons— Carter — Wheatley— 
Marlow 3^-45 

CHAPTER   IV 

PICTURESQUE  TOPOGRAPHY 

Middiman's  '  Views  ' — Natural  Scenery — Gainsborough — His  influence — His  love  of 
transparency — His  camera — Wheatley  in  landscape — Barret,  R.A. — Unfairly  con- 
trasted with  Wilson — His  career— Sir  George  Beaumont's  panorama  .  .  46  50 


CHAPTER   V 
TRAVELLING   ARTISTS  ;   AND   ALEXANDER   COZENS 

John  Smith — William  Pars — John  Cleveley — John  Webber — Francis  Smith — William 
Alexander — Influence  of  travellers  on  the  Water-Colour  school — Alexander  Cozens 
— His  origin  and  marriage — Teaches  amateurs  at  Bath — His  method  of  composing 
landscapes — Gainsborough  and  amateur  sketchers — Cozens's  published  works  .  5 '-59 


CHAPTER   VI 
JOHN   COZENS  AND  JOHN   SMITH 

John  Cozens — Teaches  by  example — Early  drawings — His  '  Hannibal ' — Influence  on 
Turner — Visit  to  Italy  with  Payne  Knight — Buys  his  father's  lost  sketches — Second 
visit  with  Beckford — Loss  of  reason— Kindness  of  Sir  G.  Beaumont  and  Dr.  Monro 
—  Date  of  death — Character  of  his  art — '  Warwick  '  Smith — His  views  of  Italy — 
New  process  of  painting— Engraved  works  .......  60-67 


CHAPTER  VII 
TEACHERS,   DRAFTSMEN,   AND   DILETTANTI 

Drawing  masters — Sandby—  Grcsse — Laporte — Payne — His  'style' — Water-colours  a 
fashionable  amusement — Society  of  Arts  premiums — Artists'  materials  improve — 
More  topographical  series— S.  Ireland — Walker's  '  Copper-Plate  Magazine  ' — Dayes 
—Other  draftsmen  employed  — Patrons  and  collectors — Dr.  Mead— Duke  of  Rich- 
mond— Dr.  Monro — His  drawing  class  .......  68  79 


CONTENTS 


BOOK    II 
THE  LIFE  AND   TIMES  OF  THOMAS  GIRTIN 


CHAPTER    I 
TURNER  AND   GIRTIN   AS  STUDENTS   AND   REFORMERS 

PAGE 

Girtin  and  Turner  with  Dr.  Monro — Early  drawings — Mutual  relations — Different  dis- 
positions— Turner's  admiration  of  Girtin — Girtin's  birth,  parentage,  and  early  life- 
Apprenticed  to  Dayes — Imprisonment  and  release — Colouring  prints — London  river 
scenes— Works  for  architects — Mr.  Henderson — Masters  studied  by  Turner  and 
Girtin — Girtin's  exhibits  at  the  Royal  Academy — Sketches  in  Wales — Teaches 
amateurs — Taken  to  North  by  Mr.  Moore — Influence  of  mountain  scenery — Draws 
again  for  '  Walker's  Magazine ' — Changes  of  address — Charged  with  mannerism — 
Processes  and  materials — Taking  out  lights — F.  Nicholson  and  the  Earl  of 
Warwick — Influence  of  Girtin's  '  style ' — His  perseverance — Habits  when  sketching 
— Patrons  .  • 81-96 


CHAPTER   II 

GIRTIN   AND   HIS   COMPANIONS 

Harris  the  dealer — Girtin's  Sketching  Society — Its  rules  and  members — Francia — His 
career — Cot  man — As  '  Thaddeus  of  Warsaw ' — Old  artist  quarters — Barker — Pano- 
ramas— Sir  R.  K.  Porter — Battle-pieces — Girtin's  view  of  London — What  has 
become  of  it?— Turner  takes  to  oils— Becomes  A.  R.  A 97-108 

CHAPTER   III 

THE   LAST   YEARS  OF  GIRTIN 

I  Girtin's  marriage— Moves  to  St.  George's  Row — Studio  frequented— Playful  letters — 
Fatal  illness — Goes  to  France — His  Paris  sketches — Etched  and  aquatinted — 
Originals  at  Woburn— Pantomime  scenes — Barker  in  Paris — Girtin's  death  and 
burial— His  private  character— Aspersed  by  Dayes— Defended  by  family— Con- 
trasted with  Turner's 109-1 16 

CHAPTER   IV 
GIRTIN   AND  TURNER  AS  CONTEMPORARY   ARTISTS 

Girtin's  relations— Publication  of  the  Paris  views — Fire  at  John  Girtin's— Chambers 
Hall  and  Mr.  Jackson— Gifts  of  Girtin's  drawings  to  the  British  Museum — Turner 
and  Girtin's  prices— Turner's  '  Norham '—Rival  drawings— Turner  becomes  R.A. 
Comparative  estimates  of  art  of  Turner  and  Girtin— Their  respective  influence  on 
the  water-colour  school — Girtin's  on  Constable  .  .  ,  .  .  117-124 


CONTEXTS 

BOOK    III 
THE  FOUNDING    OF   THE  SOCIETY 


CHAPTER   I 

EXHIBITORS'  GRIEVANCES — WELLS  AND  SHELLEY 

PAGE 

Kisumi  of  development — Water-colour  art  little  known  to  general  public — Exhibitions 
since  1760 — Absorbed  in  Royal  Academy — Water-colours  ill  seen  there — Their 
painters  excluded  from  academic  honours — An  independent  exhibition  proposed — 
IV.  F.  Wells — Birth  and  education — Works  at  the  Royal  Academy — Published  works 
— Connexion  with  Tuiner — Circular  to  draftsmen — Samuel  Shelley — Birth — Minia- 
tures at  the  Royal  Academy — Copies  from  Reynolds — Changes  of  address — Paints 
portraits  and  '  history  in  small ' 125-135 

CHAPTER   II 

HILLS,   PYNE,   AND   POCOCK 

Robert  Hills— Birth  and  education — Works  at  the  Royal  Academy — Ardour  in  sketch- 
ing— Etchings  begun — Takes  pupils — Drawings —  IV.  H.  Pyne — Birth  and  education 
— Pars's  school — Works  at  the  Royal  Academy — Etchings  and  Illustrations — Social 
qualities — Historian  and  narrator — Instability  of  purpose — Plan  of  proposed  society 
— Survey  of  profession—  Nicholas  Pocock— Birth  and  parentage — Commands  Cham- 
pion's vessels — Sketches  at  sea — Settles  in  London — Early  works — Paints  sea  fights 
—  Portrait  by  son 136-145 

CHAPTER   III 

NICHOLSON 

Francis  Nicholson  —Autobiography — Birth  and  education— Want  of  sympathy — With 
Beckwith  at  York — With  a  copyist  at  Scarborough — At  Pickering — Paints  horses, 
dogs,  and  game — Patrons — First  visit  to  London — Paints  seats  and  portraits — At 
Whitby — Takes  to  landscape — Mode  of  multiplying  sketches — Exhibits  in  London 
— At  Knaresborough — Fraudulent  copies — Visit  to  Lord  Bute  in  Scotland— At 
Ripon— Draws  for  Walker's  magazine — Travels  with  Sir  H.  and  Lady  Tuite — 
Settles  in  London — Engaged  in  teaching — Power  of  water-colours — '  Stopping 
mixture' — Two  impostors — Society  of  Arts  and  the  drawing-masters  .  .  146-164 

CHAPTER   IV 

THE   VARLEYS  ;   NATTES  J   AND   GILPIN 

fohn  Parley— A.  leader  in  the  school— Cornelius  Varley—Ql  scientific  tastes— Their 

birth  and  parentage — John's  character  and  early  life — At  Barrow's  school Sketches 

with  Neale— Private  theatricals— Tossed  by  a  bull— Topographic  tours  and  draw- 
ings—With Dr.  Monro — First  studio  and  patrons — Early  exhibits — Visits  to  Wales 
— Havell  and  C.  Varley's  palette— J.  Varley's  first  marriage— Addresses— /.  C. 
Nattes — Topographic  draftsmen — Engraved  works — W.  S.  Gilpin Drawing- 
master— Birth  and  family— Sawrey  Gilpin,  R.A.— Rev.  W.  Gilpin  .  .  165-174 


CONTENTS  xv 

CHAPTER   V 
THE   SOCIETY   FOUNDED— BARRET   AND   CRISTALL 

PAGE 

Meeting  at  Stratford  Coffee  house — The  Society  as  first  founded — Gilpin  first  President 
— Six  more  members  —  George  Barret — Birth  and  parentage — Early  works — Exhibits 
at  the  Royal  Academy — Morning  and  evening  effects — Frugal  industry— Joshua 
Cristalt — Classic  taste — Birth,  parentage,  and  early  life — At  Rotherhithe — Taste  for 
poetry  fostered  by  mother — At  Blackheath — Pollard  of  Morden  and  his  Virgil  — 
Father's  opposition — At  Mr.  Ewson's — Refuses  china  trade — At  Turner's  factory, 
Broseley — Mary  Wollstonecraft — Father  ruined — Tries  china-painting — Hard  life 
— Finds  a  home  at  Mr.  Clayton's — Print-works  at  Old  Ford — Short  rations — Lives 
with  sister— Tries  engraving — Student  at  the  Royal  Academy — Walk  to  Rome 
proposed — Practises  water-colours — At  Dr.  Monro's — Early  works — Paints  on  a 
panorama — George  Dyer — Sketching  tours — Adventure  with  Welsh  miners— Ex- 
hibits at  the  Royal  Academy— Addresses  I7S-I9I 


CHAPTER   VI 
GLOVER,   HAVELL,   HOLWORTHY,   AND   RIGAUD 

fohn  Clover — Popular  teacher  and  artist — Birth  and  parentage — Writing-master — Taste 
for  agriculture — Love  of  animals — Power  of  taming  birds — Taste  for  music— Early 
subjects — Settles  at  Lichfield — Marriage  and  family — Personal  characteristics — 
Diligence  and  activity — Sketching  in  Wales  and  Dovedale — Boyish  spirit — Works 
at  the  Royal  Academy —  William  Havell — Birth  and  parentage — Artist  family — 
Irrepressible  bent — Sketches  in  Wales — Exhibits  at  the  Royal  Academy — Painter 
in  local  colour^/a»/«  Holworthy — Birth  and  antecedents — Friend  of  Turner's — 
S.  F.  Rigaitd  —Figure-painter — Antecedents  ......  192-199 


BOOK    IV 
THE    WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,    1805-1812 


CHAPTER   I 
IN    BROOK   STREET,    1 805,    1806 

The  Brook  Street  Rooms — Their  antecedent  uses — First  exhibilionof  the  Society  (1805) 

—  Sale-clerk   a  novelty — Classes  of  subjects — Profits  divided — First  Associates 

Their  previous  biographies — Miss  Byrne— J.  J.  Chalon — Robert  Freebairn — 
William  Delamotte—P.  S.  Munn — R.  R.  Reinagle— John  Smith — Francis  Stevens 
—John  Thurston— Glover  and  Gilpin — Wells  elected  President — Second  Exhibition 
(1806) — Its  contents — Profits  divided — Shelley  and  his  portraits — Smith  a  Member 
— New  Associates — Their  previous  biographies — Thomas  Heaphy — Natural  v. 
Academic  teaching — Augustus  Fugin — Birth  and  descent — Escape  from  France — 
Mathews  the  actor — With  John  Nash — Architectural  drawings  .  .  .  201-223 


xvi  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER   II 

IN    PALL   MALL  AND   BOND   STREET,    1807,    l8oS 

PAGE 

The  old  Royal  Academy's  rooms— Third  Exhibition  (1807)— Royal  sentries— Con- 
tinued success — Nattes  expelled — His  subsequent  career — Glover,  President — 
Heaphy  and  Chalon  Members — Freebairn  dies— Posthumous  exhibits— Biographies 
of  new  Associates— -J.  A.  Atkinson — Studies  in  Russia — Published  works  —  William 
Turner— Of  Oxford— Early  drawings— Fourth  Exhibition  (1808)— Bond  Street 
rooms — A  rival  Society — The  Associated  Artists — Its  founding  and  constitution — 
Leading  Members — Turner  and  Atkinson,  Members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society — 
Reinagle,  President — Delamotte  retires — His  subsequent  career  .  .  .  224-232 

CHAPTER   III 
AT   SPRING   GARDENS,    1 809   TO    l8l2 

At  Wigley's  Rooms — Exhibition  of  1809 — Testimonials — Changes  to  1812 — Shelley 
dies — Final  biography — Death  of  Paul  Sandby — Final  biographies  of  retiring 
members—  W.  H,  Pyne — Heaphy — Biographies  of  new  Members  and  Associates — 
Thomas  Uwins — William  Payne — Edmund  Dorrell — Charles  Wild— Frederick 
Nash— Peter  De  Wint— Copley  Fielding— William  Westall  .'.  .  233-265 

A 

CHAPTER   IV 

FALL   OF   THE   FIRST   SOCIETY 

Statistics — Decline  of  prosperity — Further  history  of  '  Associated  Artists  ' — Their 
decline  and  fall — Proposal  to  extend  the  Society — Its  dissolution — Final  biographies 
of  retiring  Members  —  Wells — Rigaud —  Reinagle — Chalon— The  '  Sketching 
Society1—  Westall 266-284 


BOOK   V 

THE   OIL  AND    WATER  COLOUR  SOCIETY,   1813-1820 


CHAPTER    I 
A   NEW   SOCIETY 

Reconstitution — Oil  pictures,  portraits,  anil  sculpture  admitted — Non-members  allowed 
to  exhibit— Claim  of  continuity — Changes  of  personnel — An  independent  water- 
colour  exhibition — Final  biographies  of  retiring  Members — Nicholson  —  Gilpin — 
Hotworthy 285  293 


CONTENTS  xvii 

CHAPTER    II 

MEMBERS    OF    THE    OLU    SOCIETY 

PAGE 

Retrospect  in  1820  —Further  biographies  of  old  Members—  Havell — Patock —J.  Smith 

— Barret — Cristall—Gh-vei — Hills       ...,...,     294  311 

CHAPTER   III 
JOHN    VARLEY 

Varley  a  central  figure — His  pupils —Generosity  to  young  artists — Nature  of  his  teach- 
ing— Exhibited  and  engraved  works — Impecuniosity — Enthusiasm — Blake  and  his 
visions —Belief  in  astrology — Published  writings 312-32"; 


CHAPTER   IV 
LANDSCAPE  ;   AND   THE   RISING   SCHOOL 

Biographies  continued  to  1820 — Former  exhibitors — Stevens — De  Wint — Turner — 
Copley  Fielding — Sto/t—Nevt  landscape  painters — Their  biographies — David  Cox — 
Charles  Barber—  Samuel  Prout  —  G.  F.  Robson—H.  C.  Allport— William  Walker 
— Miss  Gouli/s/aitli  ...........  326-359 

CHAPTER   V 
ACKERMANN  ;   AND   SOME   OF   HIS   DRAFTSMEN 

udolph  Ackermann — '  Repository  of  Arts  ' — Publications — Works  for  amateurs — 
Architectural  prints  and  draftsmen —Biographies  continued  —Pugin  —  Wild — 
f.  Nash — Mackenzie — Uwins  .........  360-374 

CHAPTER   VI 

SOME   FIGURE   PAINTERS 

Biographies  of  new  exhibitors— John  Linnell(lo  l&2Q)—Luke  Clennell— James  Holmes 

(to  1820)— James  S/efhano/ (\.o  1820)— Henry  Richler  (to  1820)    .         .         .     375-388 


CHAPTER  -VII 
WILLIAM   HUNT  ;   AND   OTHER   EXHIBITORS 

biography  of  W.  Hunt  (to  1820)— Short  notices  of  other  exhibitors  — Figure  and  por- 
trait—Sculpture— Animals— Topography  and  Landscape -The  brothers  Lewis  - 
Norwich  School  Minot  names  ,  .  .  .  .  .  .  ^8o 

I. 


xviii  CONTENTS 

CHAPTER   VIII 
RESTORATION   OF   THE   WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY 

l-A(;i 

Variations  of  success — Financial  report — Condition  of  Society  in  1820 — Resolution  to 
exclude  oils — Changes  of  membership — Last  days  of  Spring  Gardens  rooms — New 
quarters — Final  biographies  of  retiring  Members  and  Associates —  Glover —  C.  Varlcy 
— Munn  —  Atkinson  —  Uwins — Dorrell — Linnell — Miss  Gouldsmith — Death  of 
Pocock—~L\st  of  exhibitors  from  1805  to  1820 — Statistics  of  exhibitions  of  Oil  and 
Water  Colour  Society  ...........  397-42 


BOOK   VI 
THE  PRESIDENCY  OF  CRISTALL,  1821-1831 


CHAPTER    I 
SETTLEMENT   IN   PALL   MALL   EAST 

Resettlement  of  constitution — Third  period — Exhibition  of  1821— Experience  of  water- 
colours — Fawkes  collection — Final  biography  of  Holmes— Elections  and  exhibition 
of  1822— Lease  of  Gallery  in  Pall  Mall  East — Members  and  Associates  in  1823 — 
Final  biographies  of_/.  Smith,  Stevens,  and  Allport  .....  423-43 

CHAPTER   II 
THE   OLD   MEMBERS 

Increasing  prosperity — Amateurs  excluded —  Loan  exhibition — Society  of  British  Artists 
—  National  Gallery — Biographies  continued  to  1831 — Cristall— Barret— J.   Varley        I 
—Hills— Havel!  (to  death)—  Turner    ........     434-4^ 

CHAPTER  III 
SCHOLARS   OF   THE   OLD   SCHOOL 

Biographies  continued — De  Wint — Copley  Fielding— Cox — Kulson  (to  his  death)  — 
William  Hunt— Scott—  William  Walker 455-47 

CHAPTER   IV 
PROUT  ;  AND  THE   ARCHITECTS 

Biography  of  Prout  continued  (1819  to  1831) — Henry  Edridge — Further  biographies — 
Pugin  (1821  to  death)—  Wild  ( 1821  to  death)—/!'.  Nash  (1821  to  1831)— C.  Moore 
— Essex—  Cattermole  (to  1831)— CVW»za»  (to  1831) 472-50 


CONTENTS  xix 

CHAPTER   V 
LATER   PICTURESQUE    LANDSCAPE 

PAGE 

Biographies  of  New  Associates,  to  1831  or  death — H.  Gastineau—J.  D,  Harding — 
W.  J.  Bennett  (retired  1826)— F.  0.  Finch— W.  A.  Nesfield—S.  Jackson  -J. 
Whichelo—S.  Austin  (died  1834)—  G.  Pyne—J.  Byrne— W.  Evans  (of  Eton)— 
T.  Fielding  (died  1837)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  507-531 

CHAPTER   VI 
FIGURES,   ANIMALS,   AND   STILL   LIFE 

Biographies  continued  (to  1831) — Stephanoff—Ruhter — Biographies  of  new  Associates 
(to  1831  or  death)—/.  M.  Wright— J.  F.  Lewis— P.  Williams  (died  1885)— A. 
Chisholm— Eliza  Sharps— Louisa  Sharpe—J.  W.  Wright— F.  Tayler—Miss 
Byrne  (died  1837) — Mrs.  Fielding  (resigned  1835) — Miss  Scott  (Mrs.  Brookbank, 
retired  1838) — Miss  Barret  (died  1836) — Various  incidents — Plans  for  New  Gallery 
— Sir  Thomas  Lawrence's  funeral — Hostile  criticism — New  Water-Colour  Society 
founded 532-558 


THE 

'OLD  WATER-COLOUR'  SOCIETY 

INTRODUCTION 

WATER-COLOUR  DRAWING  AND  PAINTING 

The  first  water-colour  exhibition — Nature  of  modern  water-colour  art — Transparent  pig- 
ments—Development of  practice — From  monochrome  to  local  colour — Influence  of 
national  taste. 

THE  '  Annual  Register '  for  1 805  records  the  death  of  Nelson,  but 
makes  no  mention  of  the  following  event,  which  nevertheless  marks 
an  epoch  of  some  note  in  the  national  history  of  the  arts  of  peace.     On 
the  22nd  of  April  in  that  year,  a  curious  collection  of  275  specimens 
of  graphic  art  was  placed  on  view  at  '  The  Rooms,'  No.  20,  Lower 
Brook  Street,  Bond  Street,  for  one  shilling  a  head,  catalogue  gratis, 
Whether  they  were  entitled  to  the  name  of '  pictures  '  is  a  question 
still   unsettled.1     The   exhibitors   used  that  designation,  and   called 
themselves  a  Society  of  Painters  in  Water- Colours.     By  reason  of  its 
novelty  at  least,  their  exhibition,  until  its  close  on  the  8th  of  June, 
was  a  source  of  unusual  attraction  to  the  fashionable  dilettantioi  that 
London  season.      The  novelty  consisted   mainly  in  the  fact  of  this 
being   the  first   occasion  on   which   so   many   works   in   the   above 
material,  from  the  hands  of  various  artists,  had  been  shown  by  them- 
selves, without  the  presence,  in  the  same  gallery,  of  pictures  in  oil. 
•But  the  attraction  was  due  in  part  also  to  the  revelation  it  made  of 
•the  strength  acquired  by  an  imperfectly  recognized  school  of  painting, 
las  well  as  to  the  opportunity  then  given  to  amateurs  and  collectors 
Ipf  choosing  and  acquiring  examples  of  the  rising  art. 

The  following  modest  announcement  was  printed  as  a  preface  to 
The  catalogue  : — '  The  utility  of  an  Exhibition  in  forwarding  the  Fine 

1  In  sale  catalogues  of  the  present  day,  it  is  usual  to  place  what  are  called  '  Pictures," 
leaning  works  in  oils,  in  a  different  category  from  works  in  water-colours,  these  being  still 
ailed  '  Drawings.' 

B 


A 


2  INTRODUCTION 

Arts  arises,  not  only  from  the  advantage  of  public  criticisms,  but  also 
from  the  opportunity  it  gives  to  the  artist  of  comparing  his  own  works 
with  those  of  his  contemporaries  in  the  same  walk.  To  embrace  both 
these  points  in  their  fullest  extent  is  the  object  of  the  present  Exhibi- 
tion ;  which,  consisting  of  Water-Colour  Pictures  only,  must,  from  that 
circumstance,  give  to  them  a  better  arrangement,  and  a  fairer  ground 
of  appreciation,  than  when  mixed  with  Pictures  in  Oil.  Should  the 
lovers  of  the  Art,  viewing  it  in  this  light,  favour  it  with  their  patronage, 
it  will  become  an  Annual  Exhibition  of  Pictures  in  Water  Colours.' 
The  '  lovers  of  the  Art '  responded  to  this  appeal.  The  exhibition 
did  become  annual,  and  was  the  virtual  commencement  of  the  career 
of  what  used  to  be  commonly  known  as  the  Old  Water-Colour 
Society,  but  has  now  assumed,  by  her  Majesty's  favour,  the  full  title 
of  THE  ROYAL  SOCIETY  OF  PAINTERS  IN  WATER-COLOURS. 

In  order  to  give  an  adequate  account  of  the  events  which  led 
to  this  experimental  opening  of  a  gallery,  it  is  necessary  to  trace 
back  to  a  comparatively  remote  period,  the  growth  in  Britain  of  the 
truly  national  art  known  as  '  drawing,'  or  '  painting,'  in  water-colours. 
It  is,  moreover,  a  first  requisite  to  the  analysis  of  such  a  subject, 
that  the  inquirer  should  rightly  comprehend  the  nature  of  those  dis-S 
tinctions  between  oil  and  water-colour  art,  which  not  only  forbade  the 
effective  display  of  works  of  the  two  classes  in  juxtaposition,  but 
divided  British  painting  into  two  branches,  that  grew  up  side  by  side, 
each  having  its  separate  history,  and  each  its  own  manner  and  rate  of 
development. 

Between  '  oils  '  and  '  water  colours,'  as  means  of  graphic  represen- 
tation, there  are,  it  must  be  premised,  certain  essential  distinctions 
not  directly  dependent  upon  the  oleaginous  or  aqueous  character  o 
the  fluid  wherewith  the  painter  lays  on  his  colour.  Pigments,  paints 
or  '  colours '  (as  they  are  often  loosely  called)  are  either  opaque  01 
transparent ;  the  sensation  of  colour  received  from  them  being  pro- 
duced in  different  manners  in  the  two  cases.  When  opaque  pigmenl 
is  used,  the  light  by  which  the  sensation  of  colour  is  excited  is  simplv 
reflected  from  the  surface  of  the  paint,  and  modified  or  affected  b<' 
the  nature  of  that  surface.  When  transparent  pigment  is  used,  th'e 
light  first  passes  through  the  coat  of  paint,  is  then  reflected  from  the  ; 
surface  of  the  material  upon  which  that  coat  is  spread,  and  finall 
passes  back,  through  the  paint,  a  second  time  to  reach  the  eye.  It  i 


WATER-COLOUR   DRAWING  AND   PAINTING  3 

obvious  that,  in  the  second  case,  this  light  is  not  only  affected  by  fil- 
tration through  the  paint  itself,  but  also  by  the  nature  of  the  surface  at 
the  back  upon  which  the  paint  is  spread.  Thus,  although  in  both 
cases  the  light  really  comes  at  first  from  the  front,  transparent  colours 
may  be  said  to  derive  theirs  virtually  from  the  back,  and  so  to  possess 
a  sort  of  luminosity  akin  to  that  of  a  stained  glass  window.  It  needs 
neither  artist  nor  optician  to  tell  us  how  different  must  be  the  effect 
of  the  above  two  kinds  of  painting.  In  practice,  however,  the  dis- 
tinction is  a  broad  one  only.  There  are  many  degrees  of  trans- 
parency ;  and  light  in  all  cases  loses  something  by  reflection.  No 
pigments  are  absolutely  transparent,  or  absolutely  opaque.  All  have 
more  or  less  '  body,'  as  it  is  technically  called  ;  and  it  is  often  hard  to 
say  whether  one  or  the  other  kind  of  colour  predominates  in  a  given 
picture.  Layers  of  paint,  one  over  another,  may  also  vary  in  their 
power  of  transmitting  and  reflecting  light.  Thus  the  two  opposite 
qualities  may  be  intermingled  and  contrasted  with  infinite  variety. 
But,  if  it  should  happen,  as  it  does  happen,  that  certain  effects  are 
best  produced  by  the  greatest  possible  transparency  of  pigment,  it 
follows  that  the  process  which  secures  this  quality  is  best  for  such 
purpose.  Herein  lies  the  gist  of  the  matter.  Oil,  when  dry,  becomes 
in  some  degree  opaque.  Hence  it  is  impossible  to  obtain  as  great 
transparency  with  oil-colours  as  with  water-colours  ;  and  thus  certain 
powers  of  imitation  are  almost  denied  to  the  painter  in  oil  which  come 
easily  within  the  range  of  the  painter  in  water-colour. 

In  the  present  day,  opaque  and  transparent  pigments  are  commonly 

used  both  with  oil  and  with  water.     But  this  was  not  the  case  during 

the  last  century.     The  union  of  both  in  the  same  picture  was  then,  in 

England  at  least,  almost  *  entirely  confined  to  painters  in  oil.     The 

water  medium,  on  the  contrary,  was  used  either  with  opaque  pigments 

: /alone,  or  with  transparent  pigments  alone  ;  not  with  both  together. 

'.•Thus  there  have  been  three  technical  processes,  each  of  which  has 

I  Jhad  its  own  objects  and  proper  uses,  and  to  each  of  which  belongs  a 

I  {separate  history. 

With  purely  opaque  painting  in  water-colours,  as  with  painting  in 
Dil,  we  have  not  much  to  do  in  these  pages.  Its  practice  began  in 
/cry  early  times,  anterior  to  the  invention  of  oil  painting,  and,  under 
various  names  and  forms  of  tempera,  fresco,  gouache,  body-colour,  and 

1  There  were  exceptions  in  the  practice  of  miniature  painters :  see  Redgrave's  Century 
\f/  J'aiiiters,  i.  407. 

B  2 


4  INTRODUCTION 

the  like,  has  been  employed  by  artists  at  home  and  abroad,  with  varia- 
tions of  method  for  its  appropriate  purposes.  A  few  artists  l  of  the 
last  century  painted  landscapes  in  distemper ;  and  the  same  material 
was,  and  is,  universally  employed  for  the  scenery  of  theatres.  Land- 
scape painting  in  tempera  or  body-colour  was  practised  as  a  method 
distinct  from  transparent  water-colours,  until  modern  times  in  the 
present  century,  when  the  two  kinds  of  material  have  frequently  been 
combined  in  the  same  drawing.  But,  before  this  modern  partial 
introduction  of  body-colour,  tempera  painting,  pure  and  simple,  had 
entirely  died  out.2  Works  of  that  kind  had  little  or  no  direct  influence 
upon  the  rise  of  the  school  whose  development  has  here  to  be  recorded. 
It  was  in  the  use  of  transparent  water-colours  that  it  found  its  strength, 
and  acquired  its  celebrity. 

It  is  not  the  writer's  intention  to  investigate  by  particular  examples 
the  history  of  the  changes  of  practice  in  the  course  of  which  this  art  1 
was  gradually  expanded  from  the  use  of  a  single  colour,  and  the  mere 
indication  of  light  and  shade,  to  the  employment  of  a  full  palette,  and  j 
an  imitation  of  all  the  colours  of  nature.    The  technical  view  of  the  sub- 
ject has  been  carefully  dealt  with  by  the  Messrs.  Redgrave  in  several 
publications,  and  to  the  lucid  epitome  by  the  late  Samuel  Redgrave 
in  the   introductory  notice  to  A  Descriptive  Catalogue  of  the  His-  \ 
torical  Collection  of  Water-Colour  Paintings  in  the  South  Kensington 
Museum  (1877),  little  has  here  to  be  added.     Although  transparent 
colours  had  been  sometimes   employed    in  England  by  painters  oil 
miniature  portraits,  and  had  even  been  successfully  applied  to  land-t 
scape  by  Dutch  artists  in  the  seventeenth  century,  it  was  not  until  the 
second  half  of  the  eighteenth,  and  through  a  quite  independent  course 
of  practice  by  our  own  landscape  draftsmen,  that  the  British  school  ofl 
water-colours  came  into  being.     Beginning  with  chiaroscuro  drawing-  , 
in  grey  or  brown,  and  using  the  pen  as  well  as  the  brush,  they  pro  - 
ceeded  to  the  suggestion  of  aerial  perspective  by  the  union  of  twcJ 
simple  colours,  drawing  near  objects  with  the  warmer,  and  reservinJil 
the  cooler  for  distant  parts  of  their  view.     Brown  with  grey,  or  eithci 
with  blue,  sufficed  for  that  purpose.     Then  came  the  cautious  addition  (I 
of  a  few  transparent  tints  washed  over  these  grey  or  brown  or  bluisl//, 
shaded  drawings,  to  give  some  indication  of  varieties  of  local  colour  i  j 
objects.     Trees  were  painted  green,  and  the  sky  blue,  and  a  distinction 

1  Taverner,  Paul  Sandby,  '  Athenian '  Stuart,  Barret  R.A.,  Ac. 

2  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  i.  407, 


WATER-COLOUR    DRAWING   AND    PAINTING  5 

made  between  tiles  and  slate,  brick  houses  and  those  built  of  stone. 
More  colours  were  gradually  introduced.  But  the  process  was  still 
two-fold.  A  shaded  drawing  was  made  in  neutral  tint  with  pen  and 
brush  or  brush  alone  ;  and  this  drawing  afterwards  stained  with  varied 
hues,  as  a  child  would  colour  a  print.  At  length  it  was  perceived  that 
the  broken '  colours,  resulting  from  this  grey  under-coat's  appearing 
through  and  modifying  the  brighter  film  above,  might  be  got  at  in  a 
more  direct  way.  The  same  hues  were  obtainable  by  mixture.  More- 
over, grey  itself  was  the  union  of  all  the  primary  colours.2  Thus  it 
was  found  that  three  well-chosen  paints,  inclining  to  blue,  to  yellow, 
and  to  red,  were  enough,  in  the  hands  of  a  competent  artist,  not  only 
to  suggest  the  different  colours  of  objects  and  their  forms  and  shadows, 
but  to  diffuse  throughout  a  landscape  its  proper  quality  of  daylight. 
The  essential  elements  of  the  art,  in  its  mature  form,  were  then  well- 
nigh  complete.  The  preparatory  drawing  in  neutral  tint  was  dis- 
carded. Local  hues  of  objects,  whether  in  sunshine  or  shadow,  were 
painted  at  once  as  the  artist  saw  them,  and  then  toned  down  and 
adjusted  with  grey  and  such  other  colours  as  the  case  might  require. 

To  effect  particular  objects,  certain  simple  methods  were  about 
the  same  time  discovered  and  resorted  to,  which,  without  having 
special  reference  to  variety  of  hue,  greatly  increased  the  vigorous 
effect  of  water-colour,  and  its  power  to  express  light  by  contrast 
and  gradation.  Richness  and  depth  were  obtained  by  repeated 
washes.  When  some  progress  had  been  made  with  a  drawing,  and 
much  of  the  capacity  of  the  paper  to  reflect  light  had  unavoidably 
been  lost  under  superincumbent  layers  of  paint,  it  was  found  easy 
again  to  lay  bare  its  pure  white  surface ;  either  wholly,  in  small  well- 
defined  portions  ;  or  partially,  over  a  wider  space.  This  was  effected 
in  the  first  case  by  moistening  the  colour  with  a  hair  pencil  and  re- 
moving it  entirely  with  an  absorbent  rag  and  bread  ;  and  in  the 
sjbcond,  by  washing  off  a  portion  of  the  pigment  so  as  to  render  more 

transparent  that  which  remained.       Sparkling  touches  of  sunshine 

i 

1  By  broken  colours  we  understand  those  colours  '  which  reach  the  eye  mixed  with  faint 
White,  that  is  to  say,  grey  light,  but  in  which  the  specific  character  of  their  hue  is  still  ex- 
jlessed  with  tolerable  decision.'     Von  Bezold's  The  Theory  of  Color,  Koehler's  Translation, 
Boston,  1876,  p.  97. 

2  Strictly  speaking,  a  union  of  all  the  colours,  that  is  to  say,  coloured  rays,  in  their  due 
-oportions,  produces  white  light.     But  an  admixture  of  two  pigments  has  the  effect  of  ex- 
uding, or  quenching  as  it  were,  by  the  resistance  of  one  or  the  other,  all  colour  which  is 
ot  common  to  the  two.     Hence  the  admixture  of  all  the  pure  or  primary  pigments,  that  is 

say,  those  which  have  no  colour  in  common,  produces  black  or  grey. 


6  INTRODUCTION 

were  produced  by  the  former  means  ;  and,  by  the  latter,  tender 
gradations  of  light  and  atmosphere.  With  devices  such  as  these, 
the  use  of  opaque  colour  became  altogether  unnecessary  ;  the  painter 
having  acquired  what  proved  to  be  as  efficient,  and  often  more  ready, 
as  well  as  more  subtle,  means  of  expression.  These  experiments, 
with  others,  more  in  the  nature  of  tricks  of  the  brush,  which  were 
resorted  to  by  particular  artists,  may  be  regarded  as  incidents  of 
practice.  But  the  main  step  in  advance,  which  effected  a  kind  of 
revolution  in  water-colour  art,  and  raised  it  from  mere  drawing  to  the 
dignity  of  painting,  was  the  direct  use  of  local  colour,  without  the 
customary  foundation  of  grey.  The  introduction  of  this  method, 
towards  the  close  of  the  last  century,  is  generally  ascribed  to  Turner 
and  Girtin  ;  though  it  may  be  doubted  whether  others  were  not 
entitled  to  some  share  of  the  honour.  It  seems  in  any  case  to  have 
marked  the  period  when  our  artists  began  to  look  at  the  colour  of 
a  scene  in  nature  as  a  thing  of  beauty  to  imitate  for  its  own  sake. 

To  art-students  of  the  present  day,  with  the  models  now  before 
them,  and  the  materials  they  have  at  hand,  it  may  appear  strange 
that    this    process    of  painting,  so  obvious    to    them,  so   simple,  so 
naturally  adapted  to  the  representation  of  what  they  see,  one  in  accord 
moreover  with  the  long-established  methods  of  painters  in  oil,  should 
yet  have  remained  for  so  many  years  undiscovered,  should  have  taken 
so  long  a  succession  of  artists  to  prepare  its  way,  and  have  only  been 
reserved  to  men  of  great  original  genius  to  reduce  it  first  into  practice. 
The  explanation  is  to  be  sought  for,  not  in  any  want  of  capacity 
on  the  part  of  these  early  practitioners,  the  precursors  or  founders, 
whichever  we  may  choose  to  call  them,  of  our  school  of  water-colours, 
but  in  their  motives  of  action.      The  gradual  advance  in  technique 
which  culminated  in  the  days  of  Turner's  maturity  will  be  found  toJ 
have  been  regulated,  step  after  step,  by  the  nature  of  the  demands 
made  upon  professional  talent.      Their  methods  of  work,  and  th« 
materials  they  used,  were  enough  for  the  purpose  in  hand  at  the  timq. 
being.     As  culture  advanced  and  taste  improved,  other  and  higher 
tasks  were  set  before  them,  and  then  they  employed  new  method 
and   needed   and    obtained  better  materials.       Thus   the  history  c, 
technical  progress,  fascinating  as  it  may  be  to  the  artist  and  con 
noisscur,  and  valuable  to  the  collector  as  a  means  of  assigning  its  true 
period  to  a  work  of  art,  derives  a  wider  interest  and  a  higher  valu 
from  the  indication  it  affords  of  the  progress  of  national  taste. 


BOOK    I 

WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY 


CHAPTER    I 

EARLY   TOPOGRAPHIC   PRINTS 

Water-colours  developed  in  application  to  landscape— First  demand  for  simple  topography- 
Allied  more  to  history  than  to  poetry —Architect  draftsmen — Maps  and  bird's-eye  views — 
Hollar,  Loggan,  and  Burghers— '  Britannia  Illustrata' — Demand  for  '  gentlemen's  seats  ' 
— Conventional  perspective— Light-and-shade  not  used  for  '  effect ' — Buck's  views— Low 
state  of  art— Boydell— Kirby— Highmore — Scott. 

IT  is  chiefly  in  its  application  to  landscape,  as  opposed  to  figure  sub- 
jects, that  we  are  able  to  trace  the  rise  and  development  of  water- 
colour  painting.  For  its  course  has  mainly  been  governed  by  the 
progressive  appreciation  of  landscape  painting  in  Great  Britain.  A 
complete  account  of  the  varying  mental  stand-points  from  which  the 
objects  and  scenes  and  natural  phenomena  that  come  within  the  wide 
category  of  Landscape  have  from  time  to  time  been  regarded  by  the 
artist's  patrons  and  employers,  would  show  how  closely  his  practice 
in  that  branch  of  art  has  conformed  to  their  successive  valuation  of 
such  things  and  appearances,  both  as  worthy  of  his  representation, 
and  as  adapted  to  their  own  tastes  and  requirements.  The  special 
course  of  landscape  art  which  has  here  to  be  followed  is  thus  in  its 
earlier  stages  intimately  connected  with  the  then  favourite  study  of 
feritish  topography.1  Not  only  is  its  germ  to  be  found  in  illustrations 
i/f  this  kind,  but  some  of  the  greatest  triumphs  of  its  palmy  days 
were  achieved  in  the  same  service. 

I  |  '  The  word  '  topography '  is  here  used  in  its  ordinary  sense  of  place-drawing,  or  the 
[Description  ofa  particular  spot.  Ruskin,  in  Modern  Painters,  iv.  16  (part  v.  ch.  ii.),  makes  a 
tinction  between  '  simple  '  and  '  Turnerian '  topography,  as  being  two  separate  branches  ot 
andscape  art,  the  one  historical,  the  other  poetical.  Mr.  P.  G.  Hamerton,  in  his  book  on 
Landscape  (pp.  170-174),  seems  to  apply  the  term  '  topographic  drawing '  to  purely  imitative, 
is  compared  with  suggestive  representation,  and  in  such  sense  to  place  it  in  a  third  category 
the  scientific  branch  of  landscape  drawing. 


8       WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY      BK.  I 

To  modern  eyes  the  efforts  of  our  earlier  topographers  appear 
crude  indeed,  if  we  look  upon  them  in  the  abstract  as  works  of  art. 
Yet,  regarded  in  the  concrete,  they  have  qualities  in  common  with 
some  of  the  most  artistic  productions  of  their  successors,  and  these 
qualities  may  entitle  them  to  higher  consideration  than  they  some- 
times receive.  The  fact  of  an  old  topographic  print's  being  stiff 
and  devoid  of  the  sensuous  charm  of  beauty  need  not  disentitle  it 
to  respect  as  a  characteristic  embodiment  of  the  important  features 
of  the  place  or  object  depicted.  The  producers  of  such  works  were 
content  to  describe  in  the  simple  graphic  language  of  their  day  the 
outward  appearance,  not  only  of  the  objects,  but  of  the  people  among 
whom  they  lived,  costumed  as  they  really  were,  and  engaged  in  their 
ordinary  pursuits.  Thus  setting  forth,  though  in  a  rude  way,  '  the  very 
age  and  body  of  the  time,  his  form  and  pressure,'  their  art,  such  as 
it  is,  preserves  for  us  the  evidence  of  contemporary  observers  ;  and, 
so  far,  deserves  the  name  of  '  historical  painting '  by  a  better  title 
than  does  the  fancy  picturing  of  a  doubtful  event  some  thousands  of 
years  after  it  may  be  conjectured  to  have  happened.  No  doubt  there 
is  enough  to  despise  in  our  ancestors'  conception  of  the  picturesque 
beauties  of  the  land  ;  but  we  at  least  learn  from  these  topographers 
what  were  regarded  in  their  time  as  its  prominent  features.  They 
indicate,  even  by  their  omissions,  to  what  kinds  of  visible  objects 
public  interest  was  then  chiefly  confined. 

It  being  the  topographer's  aim  to  disseminate  instruction  as  well 
as  to  please,  the  designs  of  many  of  our  earlier  draftsmen  are  known 
only  through  prints,  for  which  their  sketches  or  drawings  have  been 
but  the  preliminary  stage.  Not  unfrequently  they  were  their  own 
engravers.  A  sufficiently  succinct  view  of  this  period  can  therefore 
be  obtained  from  a  survey  of  published  engravings. 

In  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth  century  the  subjects  chosen 
for  the  exercise  of  the  landscape  draftsman's  imitative  skill  seem  to 
have  been  almost  restricted  to  buildings,  singly  or  in  groups.  He- 
must  already  have  been  employed  in  the  more  direct  service  of  archi- 
tecture ;  and  the  technical  history  of  his  art  might  more  properlyj 
begin  with  the  early  training  he  received  when  the  buildings  whi 
he  was  afterwards  called  upon  to  depict  existed  only  in  design.  The! 
English  architects  of  the  Tudor  and  Jacobean  times,  and  of  t 
Italian  Renaissance  of  the  seventeenth  century,  both  drew  themselves 
and  must  have  employed  draftsmen  to  copy  fairly  their  original  I 


CH.  I  EARLY  TOPOGRAPHIC   PRINTS  9 

designs  and  lay  them  down  to  scale  for  working  purposes.  Many  of 
these  were  probably  foreigners.  Italians  are  believed  to  have  been 
largely  employed  by  Inigo  Jones,  who  also  was  himself  a  powerful 
draftsman.  Drawings  in  Indian  ink  executed  in  the  early  part  of 
the  eighteenth  century  from  the  designs  of  Vanbrugh,  have  been  pre- 
served, and  a  great  many  highly-finished  drawings  of  this  kind  from 
designs  of  Inigo  Jones's  were  made  by  the  architect  Henry  Flitcroft  for 
the  Earl  of  Burlington.  The  latter  are  in  the  collection  of  the  Duke 
of  Devonshire.  The  Earl  of  Burlington  lived  from  1695  to  1758, 
and  Flitcroft  from  1697  to  1767.  Among  architectural  illustrations 
of  the  early  part  of  the  eighteenth  century,  one  of  the  most  impor- 
tant is  the  work  entitled  Vitruvius  Britannicus,  first  published  in 
1717,  from  drawings  by  one  Charles  Campbell.  Inigo  Jones's  designs, 
collected  and  reproduced  by  the  architect  Kent,  were  published  in 
1727;  and  James  Gibbs's  Book  of  Architecture  in  1728.  'Most 
drawings  of  this  date,'  says  a  professional  critic,  '  have  a  grey  and 
monotonous  effect,  the  windows  being  treated  as  mere  holes  in  the 
wall.'1  It  is  only  in  recent  times  that  the  architect's  draftsman  has 
been  called  upon  to  present  in  a  pictorial  form — sometimes  even  to 
glorify — projected  buildings.  In  the  primitive  period  now  referred 
to  he  had  not  advanced  beyond  facades  and  elevations  in  one  colour. 
Perspective,  as  well  as  varied  colour  and  general  effect,  followed 
after.2 

And  so  it  was  with  the  topographer.  But  he,  having  to  deal  with 
the  horizontal  surface  of  the  earth,  laid  down  his  subject  first  upon 
the  flat,  instead  of  upon  a  vertical  plane.  Old  charts  contain  the 
germ  of  topographic  landscape.  They  are  often  not  merely  ground 
plans,  but  are  dotted  with  representations  of  objects  of  interest, 
making  no  attempt,  however,  at  continuous  perspective.  From  this 
the  transition  is  not  great  to  the  kind  of  bird's-eye  view  which  we 
have  in  Ralph  Agas's  maps,  executed  in  the  reign  of  Queen  Elizabeth  ; 
and  the  next  step  brings  us  to  a  method  of  topographic  illustra- 
tipn  employed  at  the  beginning  of  the  eighteenth  century,  in  the 
\irious  and  interesting  plates  engraved  between  the  years  1709  and 
;,63,  and  collected  in  four  folio  volumes  under  the  title  Britannia 

j'l 

•J  '  Mr.  Maurice  B.  Adams,  A. R. I.E. A.,  in  a  paper  on  Architectural  Illustration,  read 

jwlfore  the  Architectural  Association,  12  Jan.  1877. 

]j  2  The  first  coloured  drawing,  of  a  strictly  architectural  subject,  exhibited  at  the  Royal 
(Academy,  is  said  to  have  been  a  view  of  Seaton  Delaval,  sent  there  in  1815  by  John 
[liobson,  F.R.I.B.A.,  hereinafter  mentioned  as  a  pupil  of  John  Varley's. 


io     WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY      BK.  I 

Illustrata.  Similar  plates  are  contained  in  county  histories  published 
during  this  period,  such  as  Sir  Henry  Chauncy's  Herefordshire, 
1700;  Sir  Robert  Atkyns's  Gloucestershire,  1712;  and  Dr.  Harris's 
Kent,  1719.  They  represent  what  satisfied  the  demand  for  topo- 
graphic landscape  throughout  the  reigns  of  Queen  Anne  and  the  first 
of  the  Georges. 

In  the  preceding  century  topographic  illustration,  chiefly  the 
work  of  foreigners,  had  had  more  relation  to  pictorial  art.  Hollar's 
views  are  at  least  constructed  on  the  ordinary  rules  of  perspective. 
His  original  drawings,  however,  show  less  mastery  of  the  brush  than 
his  engravings  do  of  the  etching-point.  Of  his  architectural  de- 
lineations the  writer '  above  quoted  remarks  that  '  the  shading  is 
curiously  executed,  and  at  times  muddy  in  effect.  The  detail  scarcely 
satisfies  inspection,  the  arcades  and  arches  having  a  thin,  weak  ap- 
pearance.' 

The  buildings  of  our  English  universities  were  depicted  by 
David  Loggan,  a  native  of  Dantzig,  in  about  seventy  brilliant  prints, 
in  volumes  entitled  Oxonia  Illustrata,  1675,  and  Cantabrigia  Illus- 
trata, 1688.  There  are  also  small  views  of  buildings  by  Michael 
Burghers,  in  which  a  distinctly  artistic  feeling  for  composition  and 
effect  is  apparent.  Of  these,  some  of  the  plates  by  him  in  Dr.  Plot's 
Natural  History  of  Staffordshire,  folio,  1686  ;  White  Kennett's 
Parochial  Antiquities  of  Ambrosden,  &c.,  4to,  1695  ;  and  Hutten  and 
Hearne's  Textus  Roffensh,  8vo,  1720,  are  worthy  of  study.  The 
aerial  perspective  is  carefully  preserved,  the  shadows  are  transparent, 
and  there  is  about  them  a  pleasant  sparkle  of  sunshine.  The  figures, 
moreover,  are  judiciously  placed,  and  the  foliage  is  handled  with  more 
freedom  than  was  usual  in  the  artist's  day.  Burghers  was  a  Dutch- 
man settled  at  Oxford,  where  between  1676  and  1723  he  engraved  aj 
large  number  of  the  headings  of  the  Oxford  Almanack.  Among  the] 
topographic  representations  in  Kennett's  '  Antiquities '  are  also  some  j 
bird's-eye  views,  more  consistent  in  their  perspective  than  those  in 
Britannia  Illustrata. 

To  return  to  the  last-named  work  :  its  first  set  of  fifty-four  plat / 
was  issued  in  1709,  and  the  first  of  its  four  volumes  was  published 
imperial  folio,  in  17 14,  by  '  Joseph  Smith  at  yc  Pictor  Shop  ye  West 
of  Exeter  Change  in  the  Strand.'     Its  scope  is  explained  in  a  seconi 
title,  which  runs  thus : — '  Views  of  several  of  the  Queen's  Palaces  ,  | 

1  Mr.  Maurice  B.  Adams,  uln  snfra. 


I    CH.  I  EARLY   TOPOGRAPHIC    PRINTS  11 

also  of  the  Principal  Seats  of  Nobility  and  Gentry  of  Great  Britain 
curiously  Engraven  on  80  Copper  Plates.'  These,  with  scarcely  an 
exception,  are  inscribed '  L.  Knyff  Delin.  I.  Kip  Sculp.'  Some  of  them 
extend  across  two  opposite  pages.  A  very  few  of  the  earliest  have 
the  names  of  the  subjects  in  French  as  well  as  English.  The  second 
volume,  dated  1717,  contains  about  sixty  more  views,  nearly  all  in- 
scribed '  J.  Kyp  Delin.  et  Sculp. ; '  together  with  a  few  architectural 
elevations  of  houses  on  a  large  scale,  and  one  or  two  colleges  in 
Oxford,  some  of  which  bear  the  names  of  other  engravers.  In  the 
later  plates,  contained  in  the  third  and  fourth  volumes,  we  make 
acquaintance  with  a  draftsman  called  Thomas  Badeslade.  Redgrave, 
in  his  '  Dictionary  of  the  English  School,'  tells  us  that  this  artist 
practised  in  London  1720-1750,  drew  many  of  the  seats  of  the  nobility 
and  gentry,  which  were  engraved  by  Toms  and  Harris,  and  made 
drawings  for  Dr.  Harris's  '  History  of  Kent,'  above  mentioned,  and 
some  other  publications.  Before  the  third  volume  appeared,  the  first 
two  were  republished  (Upcott  says  in  1724),  with  the  following  not 
very  classical  announcement : — 

'  Note. — There  is  a  Third  Volume  in  hand,  any  Gentleman  paying 
Five  Guineas  towards  the  Graving,  may  have  their  Seat 
inserted,  it  being  very  forward,  which  is  only  half  what  the 
former  paid.' 

And  the  said  Jo.  Smith  of  Exeter  Change  offers  the  published 
plates  for  sale  singly,  and 'all  sorts  of  Prints  and  Maps  for  Halls, 
Parlors,  Stair-cases,  &c.' 

We  have  here  some  indication  of  the  kind  of  patronage  under 
which  native  British  art  was  fostered.     As  the  figure  painters  lived  by 
taking  likenesses  of  the  wealthy,  so  landscape  painters  found  an  occu- 
pation in  portraying  their  fine  houses.    We  shall  see  in  the  sequel  how 
large  a  part  of  the  work  assigned  to  British  artists  has  been  this  task 
of  depicting  what  are  called  '  gentlemen's  seats.'     But  the  mode  of 
treating  such  subjects  was  only  in  the  primary  stage  in  the  first  half 
.  of  the  eighteenth  century.     The  views  above  referred  to  are  no  more 
|Viiiienable  to  the  laws  of  composition,  or  even  of  optics,  than  their 
publisher's  announcement  was  to  those  of  grammar.    They  are  framed 
jit)  a  curious  union  of  distinct  systems  of  perspective,  having,  it  may 
\,  three  different  horizons  to  one  picture.    Of  the  main  object,  usually 
brand  Elizabethan  or  Jacobean  mansion  standing  amidst  avenues 
ji  and  gardens  laid  out  in  the  quaint  geometrical  style  of  the  time,  we 


12     WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY      BK.  I 

have  perhaps  a  strictly  bird's-eye  view  ;  but  the  winged  observer 
drops  to  a  lower  level  to  survey  the  distant  landscape  ;  while  living 
objects  in  the  foreground  are  seen  as  by  a  spectator  on  foot.  Thus 
the  bird  whose  eye  the  artist  borrowed  must  have  been  of  the  breed 
introduced  by  Sir  Boyle  Roche  ;  for  these  '  prospects  '  are  taken  from 
at  least  two  places  at  a  time.  Indeed,  as  Cerberus  managed  to  be 
'  three  gentlemen  at  once,'  so  Kip's  prints  are  as  many  views  rolled 
into  one.  Such  conventional  combinations  were  no  great  novelty 
after  all.  They  had  their  precedents  in  earlier  times,  and  were 
repeated  in  those  yet  to  come.  Mediaeval  artists  were  wont  to  unite 
in  a  single  scene  events  occurring  at  different  moments.  As  they 
dealt  with  time,  so  too,  in  an  after  age,  did  the  great  Turner  deal  with 
space.  He  sometimes  fetched  from  their  true  localities  the  component 
parts  of  his  scene,  that  he  might  give  in  one  coup  d'csil  the  complete 
description  of  his  subject.  And  so  these  early  topographers  of  the 
eighteenth  century,  in  uniting  their  three  or  more  schemes  of  perspec- 
tive, and  giving  a  peripatetic  view  of  the  scene,  were  merely  adopting 
a  different  device  to  accomplish  a  like  end. 

Notwithstanding  the   inconsistency  of  their  arrangement,   these 
representations  convey  a  curious  sense  of  reality.     They  are  carefully, 
in  many  cases  vigorously,  engraved  ;  and  the  whole  scene  being  re-  \ 
presented  in  full  sunshine,  the  several  objects  are  made  to  stand  out 
solidly  from  the  earth  ;  and  a  certain  unity  is  effected  which  prevents 
an  uneducated  eye  from  perceiving  the  incongruity  of  the  drawing. 
They  are  full  of  matter ;  enlivened  with  countless  figures  and  objects,1 
which,  small   as  they  are,  tell  their  historic  tale,  of  the  habits   a:id 
manners  of  the  time.     Six-horse  coaches  with  running  footmen   roll 
up  the  stately  avenues  ;  guests  at  the  grand  house  play  bowls  on  the 
green  sward  ;  the  master  mounts  his  hunter  for  a  run  with  the  hounds ;] 
pasture  and  arable  land  are  duly  distinguished  by  herds  and  flocks,! 
and  harvest  scenes ;  deer  are  in  the  park ;  and  heavy  wains  with  long-J 
drawn  teams  lumber  along  the  high  road.     Absurd  as  the  drawing  is, 
as  a  whole,  there  is  in  these  views  a  picture  more  full  and  compreheri-I 
sive  in  its  way  than  many  an  artistic  landscape  of  modern  times.    Ai 
they  probably  supplied  the  demand  in  the  most  convenient  way. 
this  day,  there  are   no  better  prints  of  the  kind   '  for  Halls,  Parlo 
Stair-cases,  &c.' 

1  The  English  language  wants  an  equivalent  to  the  German  slaffage,  signifying  the  livii 
incidents  of  a  landscape. 


CH.  I  EARLY   TOPOGRAPHIC    PRINTS  13 

But  topographic  engravings,  such  as  these,  afforded  neither  scope 
nor  opportunity  for  artistic  treatment,  or  '  effect.'  There  is  a  strong 
family  likeness  in  Kip's  views.  Even  when  the  attempt  was  made  to 
represent  a  scene  as  it  could  appear  to  the  eye,  the  draftsman  does  not 
seem  to  have  thought  of  rendering  it  in  a  subjective  manner.  A  faint 
dawn  of  pictorial  cJiiaroscuro  may  sometimes  be  detected  ;  but  arrange- 
ments of  light  made  for  the  guidance  of  the  eye  are  nearly  always 
limited  to  the  artificial  darkening  of  the  upper  and  lower  edges  of  the 
print  or  drawing,  as  a  sort  of  border  to  give  relief  and  confine  the 
attention  to  the  '  prospect '  beyond  or  between  these  two  parallels. 
Sometimes  a  shade  may  be  thrown  across  the  middle  distance  to 
separate  one  set  of  objects  from  another  ;  but  the  main  use  of  shadow 
in  the  hands  of  the  purely  topographic  draftsmen  of  the  old  school 
was  to  give  solidity  and  distinctness '  to  the  specific  objects  repre- 
sented. And  in  the  days  when  '  Boetry  and  Bainting '  were  at  a 
discount  at  Court,  Beauty  for  its  own  sake  is  not  to  be  regarded  as 
an  aim  in  this  species  of  art. 

The  opposite  conditions  under  which  the  early  topographer  and 
the  modern  painter  of  landscape  pursued  their  respective  callings  are 
well  set  forth  by  the  Messrs.  Redgrave  in  the  following  passage  :— 

'  The  exact  transcript  of  local  objects,  places,  or  antiquities  natu- 
rally required  a  clear  daylight,  unobstructed  by  clouds  or  shadows, 
and  free  from  that  mystery  of  light  and  shade,  so  important  a  feature 
in  art,  by  which  the  painter  gives  variety  and  contrast,  and  hides  any 
unimportant  or  ugly  features  of  the  scene.  Simple  literal  truth  is  all 
that  is  required  of  the  topographer.  The  artist's  aim  is  general  truth 
and  the  vivid  impression  of  scenery  as  a  whole,  and  under  those 
varied  circumstances  which  elevate  it  from  the  commonplace  into  the 
poetical.' 2 

Belonging  to  the  same  period,  but  also  continued  to  a  later  date 
than  the  '  prospects '  of  Knyff  and  Badeslade,  are  the  long  series  of 
plates  bearing  dates  from  1720  to  1753,  by  Samuel  and  Nathaniel 
Buck,  generally  known  as  '  Buck's  views.'  They  may  be  taken  to 
.—present  the  taste  and  progress  of  topographic  art  in  England 

CM  17 

I'   fing  much  of  that  period.     Samuel,  who  long  survived  his  brother 
ithanicl,    was  the  chief  draftsman  and  engraver   of  this    compre- 

1)0 

P  See  Mr.  Hamerton's  remarks  in    The  Graphic  Arts,  pp.  348,  349,  on  Albert  Diirer's 
HI!  which  the  author  describes  as  explanatory  and  not  pictorial,  the  outline  and  shadow 
aljlig  for  definition,  not  for  chiaroscuro. 
||  "  Century  of  Tainters,  i.  374. 

al  j 


14       WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY     BK.  I 

hensive  work.  '  His  drawings,'  says  Redgrave,1  were  '  hasty  and 
slight,  but  in  some  instances  elaborately  finished  with  pen  and  ink 
and  tinted.'  He  lived  from  1696  to  1779.  His  'views/  originally 
issued  in  separate  numbers,  were  collected  and  published  in  1774, 
by  Robert  Sayer  of  Fleet  Street,  in  three  folio  volumes,  with  the 
title  Buck's  Antiquities  ;  or  'venerable  Remains  of  above  400  Castles, 
Monasteries,  Palaces,  etc.,  etc.,'  with  nearly  100  views  of  'Cities 
and  Chief  Towns.'  During  the  first  six  years  (1720  to  1725  accord- 
ing to  dates  on  the  prints)  the  name  of  '  S.  Buck '  alone  appears 
upon  the  plates.  That  of  '  N.  Buck'  is  added  in  1726.  The 
drawing  in  these  early  views  is  feeble  even  to  childishness.  The 
subjects  chosen  are,  curiously  enough,  the  same  which,  a  hundred 
years  after,  were  treated  by  the  greatest  of  landscape  painters  in  some 
of  the  finest  of  his  works  in  water-colours.  They  are  chiefly  the 
Abbeys  of  Yorkshire  (Nos.  230-235,  etc.,  in  vol.  ii.).  A  comparison 
of  No.  32O,2  '  Bolton  Abbey— Samuel  Buck  del.  1720  et  sculp.,' 
with  Turner's  drawing  of  the  same  ruin  engraved  by  Wallis  in  the 
'Picturesque  Beauties  of  England  and  Wales,'  1838,  would  exhibit 
the  two  extremes  of  landscape  art  and  landscape  engraving.  In 
these  early  prints  of  the  series  there  is  little  or  no  imitation  of 
actual  texture.  Ruined  walls  have  none  of  the  look  of  crumbling 
stone.  Edged  with  fringes  of  vegetation  neatly  trimmed,  like 
whiskers,  they  are  themselves  perfectly  smooth,  as  if  cut  out  in  wood  or 
card,3  showing  marvellous  coherence  in  broken  arches  and  masonry. 
The  sky  is  usually  expressed  by  a  few  horizontal  strokes  for 
clouds,  or,  it  may  be,  some  scanty  indications  of  rounded  cumuli. 
Generally,  a  large  portion  of  the  paper  is  left  blank,  all  but  near 
objects  being  simply  omitted.  By  1730  there  is  more  feeling 
of  texture,  more  general  tone  is  introduced,  and  the  perspective 
is  more  consistent.  The  improvement  continues  for  the  next  half- 
dozen  years.  Some  plates  of  1738  and  the  year  or  two  which  follow 
are  in  a  different  manner,  with  more  freedom  of  touch  and  atmospheric 
softness.  The  views  of  'Cities  and  Chief  Towns '  (about  10x23 
inches  large,  and  extending  across  two  pages)  are  rarely  such  as  coj. 
be  seen  from  an  attainable  point,  and  sometimes  even  partake  of 

1  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

*  The  numbers  and  dates  given  are  those  of  the  copy  in  the  British  Museum  Library;' 
»  Batty  Langley's  drawings  of  so-called   '  Gothic'  architecture,  published  in  1742,  ' 
Adams  declares  to  be  '  suggestive  of  cast-iron.' — Ubi  supra. 


CH.  I  EARLY   TOPOGRAPHIC    PRINTS  15 

character  of  the  bird's-eye  representations  of  an  earlier  type.  Num- 
bers, for  reference  to  a  footnote,  and  even  names  at  length,  are  printed 
over  the  face  of  the  subjects  ;  and  that  of  a  river  may  often  be  seen 
swimming  in  mid-stream,  and  helping  the  eye  to  distinguish  land 
from  water.  So  indeterminate  is  the  manner  of  expression.  A  care- 
ful continuous  view  of  the  London  bank  of  the  Thames  from  Millbank 
to  the  Tower,  which  extends  through  five  numbers,  leaves  little  to 
desire  as  a  strictly  topographic  record.  In  the  latest  town  views, 
and  in  some  of  the  gentlemen's  seats,  there  is  a  better  grasp  of  the 
subject  as  a  whole.  The  foreground  is  often  graceful,  and  figures 
and  animals  give  interest  and  reality  to  the  scene  and  show  the 
habits  and  costumes  of  the  time.  In  the  other  plates  the  incidents 
are  rare  ;  unless  it  be  in  connection  with  water  subjects,  where  ship- 
ping and  boats  are  plentiful,  and  afford  specimens  of  the  high-pooped 
vessels  of  the  period.  It  is  difficult,  however,  to  trace,  year  by  year, 
the  progress  of  improvement,  as  some  of  the  dates  upon  the  copper 
having  been  altered  after  repairs,  the  prints  do  not  always  bear  true 
evidence  of  the  year  when  a  plate  was  first  issued. 

Contemporary  works  of  the  same  class,  though  of  various  degrees 
of  merit,  were  much  of  the  same  average  quality  as  Buck's  views. 
Topography  had  greatly  declined  since  the  days  of  Loggan,  Burghers, 
and  Hollar,  and  had  not  as  yet  regained  new  strength.  In  Dr. 
Stukelefs  antiquarian  publications  (1740  to  1743),  for  example,  the 
views  are  contemptible. 

But  the  art  of  engraving  had  sunk  so  low  as  to  be  incapable  of 
doing  justice  to  drawings  of  any  artistic  refinement.  Boydell  declares ' 
that  in  or  about  1740,  when  he  was  apprenticed  to  Toms,  there  were 
no  engravers  of  any  eminence  in  this  country.  This  appears  to  be 
strictly  true  with  regard  to  landscape.  And  in  '  historical '  engraving 
(so-called)  Vertue,  and  perhaps  Hogarth,  had  hitherto  stood  alone  as 
representatives  of  native  talent.  Better  times  were  soon  to  follow, 
and  at  the  end  of  the  same  decade,  when  the  art  had  been  studied  by 
young  Englishmen  abroad,  an  important  school  of  engraving  was 
l*^<iut  to  arise  in  this  country.2  But  many  more  years  had  to  elapse 

Jrire  the  best  hands  came  to  be  employed  in  translating  for  the 
/  n  .-ral  eye  the  works  of  our  topographic  draftsmen. 

'  iBoydell  himself,  who  did  so  much  by  his  liberality  and  enterprise 

lief 

1  Preface  to  his  collection  of  views  republished  in  1790. 

2  See  Pye's  Patronage  of  British  Art,  54,  55. 


16       WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  THE  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY     UK.  r 

to  foster  native  talent  for  art,  did  indeed  assist  by  the  work  of  his 
own  hand,  and,  with  such  limited  graphic  power  as  he  possessed,  in 
raising  the  level  even  of  this  branch  of  art.  The  first  step  towards 
the  acquirement  of  his  fortune  was  the  publication  by  him,  in  1741, 
when  he  was  a  young  man  of  twenty-two,  of  some  shilling  views  in 
and  about  London.  They  afterwards  were  extended  to  other  parts 
of  England,  and  included  Castles  and  Mountainous  Views  in  Wales, 
and  were  carried  on  till  1755.  They  were  certainly  a  considerable 
advance  upon  Stukeley,  and  even  upon  Buck.  '  These  views,'  says  John 
Pye,1  writing  in  1845,  'looked  at  now,  the  distance  of  nearly  a  century 
from  their  date  of  publication,  are  remarkable  evidence  of  the  changes 
which  that  space  of  time  has  made,  alike  in  the  various  localities  they 
represent,  in  the  public  taste  for  works  of  art,  and  in  the  state  of  art 
itself.  In  the  present  day  such  talent  as  they  evince  would  not 
enable  an  artist  to  live  ;  yet  they  originated  for  Mr.  Boydell  the  fame 
and  fortune  which  he  acquired.' 

Among  the  topographic  prints  of  this  period  there  were  twelve 
views  of  Monasteries,  Castles,  Ancient  Churches  and  Monuments  in 
the  County  of  Suffolk,  drawn  and  etched  by  John  Joshua  Kirby,  8vo, 
1748.  These,  with  a  number  of  others,  were  made  by  him  for  an 
intended  history  of  that  county,  whereof  his  father  was  a  local 
antiquary.  Kirby's  name  became  well  known  afterwards  by  his 
activity  in  the  affairs  of  his  profession,  and  his  career  as  a  draftsman 
is  linked  with  later  and  more  artistic  times  by  a  tradition  that  it 
originated  in  an  early  friendship  with  a  much  more  distinguished 
man,  Thomas  Gainsborough.  Born  in  1716,  he  was  eleven  years  old 
when  that  painter  came  into  being,  and  his  friend  had  attained  that 
age  when  Kirby  began  business  as  a  coach  and  house  painter  at 
Ipswich.  In  that  town  Gainsborough  came  to  settle  with  his  wife 
in  1745,  and  it  is  said  to  have  been  he  who  inspired  Kirby  with 
ambition  to  try  his  hand  at  landscape,  the  result  being  these  topo- 
graphic views.  Others  followed,  engraved  by  John  Wood,  who 
worked  for  Boydell.  In  1754  Kirby  read  three  lectures  on  perspective 
at  the  St.  Martin's  Lane  Academy.  He  became  F.R.S.  and 
and  taught  architectural  drawing  to  George  III.  when  Princ 
Wales.  He  published  some  works  on  perspective,  one  of  whit 
Dr.  Brook  Taylor's  Method  of  Perspective  made  Easy,  &c., 

1  Patronage  of  British  Art,  57  ». 


CH.  I  EARLY   TOPOGRAPHIC    PRINTS  17 

1754,  for  the  frontispiece  whereof  Hogarth  designed  a  famous  carica- 
ture.1 His  architectural  drawings,  some  of  which  are  preserved  at 
Windsor  Castle,  show  considerable  mastery  in  the  management  for 
such  limited  purposes  of  transparent  water-colours. 

Among  the  topographic  drawings  of  this  period  should  be 
mentioned  those  of  English  landscapes,  with  views  of  towns  and 
buildings,  made  by  John  Baptiste  Claude  Chatelaine  (or  Chatelain},i\\e 
engraver,  some  of  which  he  etched  and  published  in  a  little  book, 
now  very  scarce,  entitled  Fifty  Small  Original  and  Elegant  Views 
of  the  most  splendid  Churches,  Villages,  Rural  Prospects,  and  Masterly 
Pieces  of  Architecture  adjacent  to  London,  8vo,  1750.  The  drawings  for 
these  are  said  to  be  '  hatched  with  chalk  and  thinly  tinted  with  colour, 
having  a  very  unpleasing  coarseness  of  effect.' 2 

Besides  the  draftsmen,  strictly  so  called,  of  topographic  subjects 
during  the  period  above  mentioned,  there  were  also  certain  painters 
in  oil  who  practised  in  the  same  line,  and  from  whose  pictures  con- 
temporary engravings  were  made.  Among  them  was  Antlwny 
Htghmore,  son  of  Joseph  Highmore,  the  latter  of  whom  was  best 
known  as  a  portrait  painter.  But  his  works  survive  only  in  eight 
large  prints  of  Kensington  and  Hampton  Court,  engraved  by  John 
Tinney  about  1740.  Samuel  Scott,  who  painted  marine  subjects  as 
well  as  London  views,  is  better  known,  and,  besides  painting  in  oil, 
was  one  of  the  early  draftsmen  in  water-colours.  Walpole  goes  so 
far  as  to  call  him  the  father  of  that  art.  He  was  born  in  London 
about  1710,  and  died  at  Bath  in  1772. 

1  Hogarth's  drawing  for  this  print  was  in  the  Esdaile  collection,  and  afterwards  in  that 
of  the  late  Dr.  Percy,  and  sold  at  Christie's  on  17  April,  1890. 

•  MS.  notes  by  the  late  John  W.  Papworth,  kindly  furnished  by  his  brother  Mr.  Wyrlt 
Papworth,  F.R.I.B.A. 


abo 

bcf, 

1 


i8  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY          UK.  I 


CHAPTER    II 
SANDBY  AND   THE   RISE  OF   EXHIBITIONS 

Paul  and  Thomas  Sandby— Born  at  Nottingham— Military  draftsmen  at  the  Tower--The 
Stuart  rebellion— Go  to  Scotland— Paul's  etchings — At  Windsor— Founding  of  Art 
Societies — Influence  of  exhibitions — P.  Sandby's  art — Want  of  materials  — Elected  K.A. 
— T.  Sandby's  career — Paul  at  St.  George's  Row— Teacher  at  Woolwich — Patrons- 
Sir  Joseph  Banks— Charles  Greville— Aquatint  engraving— Sandby's  water-colours— 
His  work  as  an  engraver. 

SUCH  was  the  condition  of  topography  in  the  middle  of  the  last  century, 
when  a  draftsman  came  into  the  field  who  had  taste  and  originality 
enough  to  bring  new  influences  to  bear  upon  the  work,  and  infuse  an 
element  of  fine  art  into  this  kind  of  illustration.  The  year  1752,  when 
Paul  Sandby  came  to  reside  with  his  brother  Thomas  at  Windsor,  and 
set  up  there  as  an  artist,  was  an  epoch  of  importance  in  the  story 
which  these  pages  have  to  tell.  The  two  brothers  were  born  in 
Nottingham,  and  came  of  an  old  county  family,  but  are  said  to  have 
begun  life  by  keeping  a  school  together  in  their  native  town.  If  so, 
they  must  have  been  singularly  young  preceptors.  For  we  are  further 
told  by  the  same  authority1  that,  by  the  interest  of  the  borough 
member,  they  obtained  an  introduction  to  the  military  drawing  office 
of  the  Tower  of  London  in  1741,  when,  if  the  dates  of  their  births  be 
correctly  given,  Thomas  was  twenty  and  Paul  only  sixteen.  It  is 
probable  that  the  elder  went  there  first,  and  the  younger  followed  in 
1746,  when  he  was  twenty-one  years  old.'2 

In  this  course  of  military  drawing  the  brothers  were  doubtless 


1  Redgrave's  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

2  Biographers  are  not  agreed  as  to  the  dates.     Bryan,  Pilkington,  and  others  gi 
as  the  date  of  Paul's  birth,  and  say  that  he  came  to  London  at  the  age  of  fourteen 
1746),   and,  after   studying  for   about    two   years   at  the  Tower,   was   in   1748   ap 
draftsman  to  the  Scotch  survey.     Redgrave,  with  others,  gives   1725   as  the  datt 
birth,  and  sends  him  to  the  Tower  in  1741  (i.e.  at  sixteen),  and  to   Scotland  in   17. 
William  Sandby's  History  of  the  Royal  Academy  (2  vols.  1865-6),  1746  is  given  as  1 
of  Paul  Sandby's  going  to  the  Tower,  1725  as  that  of  his  birth,  and  1753-4  of  his 
with  Hogarth,  as  to  which  see  below. 


>uld 
the 


Mr. 


,CH   II  SANDBY   AND    THE   RISE    OF    EXHIBITIONS  19 

drilled  into  habits  of  neatness  which  ever  after  characterized  their 
work.  Thomas  Sandby  was  in  time  appointed  draftsman  to  the  Chief 
Engineer  in  Scotland,  where,  being  at  Fort  William  on  duty,  he  was 
so  fortunate  as  to  be  able  to  give  the  first  news  to  Government  of  the 
landing  of  the  Young  Pretender  in  June  1 745.  In  the  campaign  which 
followed  he  was  draftsman  to  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  and  an  eye- 
witness of  the  battle  of  Culloden  in  the  ensuing  year.  An  interesting 
sketch  which  he  made  of  the  field  is  preserved  at  Windsor  Castle.1 

Redgrave,  in  his  Dictionary,  asserts  that  Tom  Sandby  also  followed 
the  Duke  in  his  Flanders  campaigns.  There  is  in  the  Queen's  collec- 
tion a  view  by  him  of '  the  Diest,  from  the  camp  at  Meldart,'  dated 
1747 ;  and  Mr.  William  Sandby  has  some  undated  sketches  of  the  camp 
near  Maestricht,  &c.'2  When  the  Stuart  rebellion  had  been  crushed, 
Tom  Sandby  received  the  peaceful  post  of  Deputy  Ranger  of  Windsor 
Great  Park,  of  which  the  Duke  of  Cumberland  was  Ranger;  and  his 
brother  Paul  was  sent  to  Scotland  as  draftsman  to  a  survey  of  the 
Northern  and  Western  Highlands  undertaken  by  Government  for  the 
improvement  of  the  roads.  In  the  romantic  scenery  by  which  he  was 
now  surrounded,  the  artist  element  in  Paul  Sandby's  disposition 
asserted  its  predominance.  He  drew  the  plans  required  of  him,  but 
at  the  same  time  indulged  his  pencil  in  making  picturesque  sketches. 
After  a  time,  growing  weary  of  his  allotted  task,  and  taking  more  and 
more  delight  in  this  employment  of  his  leisure,  he  abandoned  the 
military  career  for  that  of  the  artist.  To  the  practice  of  topographic 
drawing  he  thus  brought  the  correct  training  of  the  surveyor's  office, 
and  with  it  a  free  habit  of  sketching  from  nature,  for  which  he  had 
enjoyed  opportunities  such  as  had  fallen  to  the  lot  of  few  of  his 
predecessors. 

For  the  most  part,  the  sketches  which  he  made  in  Scotland 
scarcely  prepare  us  to  expect  the  devotion  to  accurate  local  truth 
which  he  exhibits  in  subsequent  works.  They  are  graceful  combina- 
tions of  hill  and  dale,  foliage,  rock,  and  cloud,  with  cattle  and  figures 
combined  in  easy  grouping.  We  know  them  chiefly  in  a  series  of 
a°°  :ed  etchings,  mostly  on  a  small  scale,  published  for  him  (by 
"e'c  ^s.  Ryland  &  Bryce)  on  his  return  to  London.  These  have 
;iig  in  them  of  dry  topography,  nor  much  indeed  of  local  character. 


1, 

Ij  was  exhibited  at  the  ( 
J-ljlon  of  works  by  the  bro 


Grosvenor  Gallery  in  the  winter  of  1877-78  ;  and  in  a  loan 
by  the  brothers  Sandby,  at  Nottingham  in  1884. 


All  these  were  exhibited  at  Nottingham  in  1884. 


C  2 


20  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY         UK.  r 

In  a  larger  '  East  View  of  Stirling  Castle,'  dated  1751,  and  a  '  West 
View  of  the  City  of  Edinburgh,'  published  by  Robert  Sayer  and 
Hen.  Ovcrton,  1753  (with  French  title  added),  he  however  appears 
already  as  an  able  topographic  artist. 

Thus  in  the  commencement  of  his  career  he  showed  some  of  the 
skill  as  an  engraver  which,  later  in  life,  he  turned  to  an  important 
account  as  an  aid  to  landscape  art.  '  His  style  of  etching,'  says  a  well- 
informed  critic,  '  has  much  of  the  freedom  of  Rooker,  Vivares,  and 
Chatelain.  In  the  works  of  these  artists,  and  of  T.  Major,  will  be 
found  the  first  examples  of  free  as  well  as  finished  style,  which,  owing 
to  the  prevalent  character  given  to  it  by  etching,  constituted  the 
peculiar  excellence  of  the  practice  of  landscape  line  engraving  in  this 
country  from  about  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century.' ' 

A  few  of  Sandby's  etchings,  dated  September  1750,  are  inscribed 
'  etched  on  the  spot.'  Among  them  are  clever,  and  characteristic 
figures,  both  inserted  in  the  landscapes  and  drawn  separately.  One 
portrays,  in  a  half-length  group,  some  of  the  company,  perhaps  the 
host  too,  at' John  Balfour's  Coffee-house  at  Edinburgh,  1752,'  with  a 
humorous  programme  of  a  concert  in  the  background.  Another  trio 
of  likenesses  is  inscribed  '  Etched  from  the  Life  on  Board  a  Scotch 
Ship,'  of  which  it  represents  '  The  Cook,  Captain  and  Mait.'  These 
tell  us  something  of  the  lively  sense  of  humour  which,  added  to  a  kind 
heart  and  the  bearing  of  a  gentleman,  made  Paul  Sandby  a  general 
favourite  in  society,  and  also  furnished  him,  when  he  chose  to  use  it, 
with  a  not  inefficient  weapon  in  professional  controversy. 

It  was  with  these  antecedents  that  the  painter  took  up  his 
residence,  in  1752,  with  the  Deputy  Ranger  at  Windsor.  His  position, 
with  the  high  connections  his  brother  had  formed,  was  one  which, 
while  it  held  out  promise  of  advancement  to  the  young  man  of  talent 
that  he  had  proved  himself  to  be,  gave  to  both  the  Sandbys  some 
voice  in  the  deliberations  of  the  world  of  art.  Paul  entered  indus- 
triously upon  the  work  of  his  calling,  sketching  everything  in  the 
neighbourhood,  and  at  the  same  time  took  an  active  part  in  p-% 
moling  the  interests  of  the  profession  he  had  espoused. 

The  time  was  one  of  national  awakening  in  matters  of  tast 
this  year,  1752,  Reynolds  returned  to  England.     Zuccarelli  canfje| 
and  Cipriani  the  year  after.     Wilson  was  still  in   Italy,  and  <lfl|lj 
borough  at   Ipswich.     The  talents  of  several  of  our  best  engju 
1  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts,  iii.  379,  &c. 


I 


CH.  II  SANDBY   AND    THE    RISE   OF   EXHIBITIONS  21 

(Strange,  Woollctt,  and  others)  had  already  begun  to  be  acknowledged. 
British  artists  of  ability  were  springing  into  existence.  But  they  were 
not  as  yet  associated  in  any  public  body,  regularly  organized  to  promote 
the  joint  interests  of  their  craft.  They  had  educated  themselves  at  a 
subscription  studio  in  Peter's  Court,  St.  Martin's  Lane,  founded  by 
Hogarth  some  twenty  years  before,  where  each  man  paid  his  quota 
to  defray  the  rent  and  provide  a  living  model.  They  called  it  an 
'  academy,'  and  there  seems  to  have  been  some  kind  of  teaching,  for, 
as  aforesaid,  Joshua  Kirby  lectured  there  on  perspective.  But  there 
were  no  regular  professorships,  and  no  pecuniar)'  endowment. 
Hogarth  indeed  provided  some  furniture  which  originally  belonged 
to  his  father-in-law  Sir  James  Thornhill,  who  had  in  his  life-time 
made  an  unsuccessful  endeavour  to  set  up  a  school  of  art.  In  the 
middle  of  the  last  century,  the  '  St.  Martin's  Lane  Academy '  was  our 
artists'  alma  mater.  Their  club,  and  chief  place  of  rendezvous  for 
discussing  the  affairs  of  the  profession,  was  the  Turk's  Head  Tavern, 
nv-^n  standing  at  the  corner  of  Greek  Street  and  Compton  Street, 
Soho.  It  was  there  that,  in  the  early  years  of  King  George  the 
Third's  reign,  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  united  with  Dr.  Johnson,  Gold- 
smith, and  others  in  founding  the  famous  literary  '  Club.'  Shortly 
afterwards  the  tavern  was  removed  to  the  neighbouring  Gerrard 
Street.1 

We  do  not  hear,  however,  of  Sandby's  studying  at  St.  Martin's 
Lane.  There  could  not  have  been  much  for  a  landscape  painter  to 
learn  there  ;  and  he  had  been  to  a  better  school  in  the  Highlands. 

In  1753  the  first  attempt  was  made  in  London  to  found  a  public 
academy  of  painting,  sculpture,  and  architecture.  But  it  proved  ab- 
ortive. A  copy  of  the  prospectus  is  reprinted  in  Ireland's  '  Hogarth,' 
which,  being  addressed  to  Paul  Sandby,  is  evidence  that  Re  had  already 
some  standing  in  the  profession.  In  the  following  year,  1754,  the 
Society  of  Arts  was  founded.  It  gave  direct  encouragement  to  the 
,  ictice  of  drawing,  by  the  award  of  premiums  to  young  students  of 
cut  '  sexes.  In  1755  a  more  hopeful  scheme  than  that  of  1753  was 
i;j  ,'n  foot  for  the  establishment  of  a  general  institution,  this  time 


•' 


Jee  Laurence  Hutton's  Literary  Landmarks  of  London,  1885.  'The  Turk's  Head 
Gerrard  Street,  Soho,  the  common  rendezvous,'  in  Wilson's  time,  '  for  all  ihe 
.,,.o!ilan  artists  who  professed  ability  approximating  to  renown.' — A.  Pasquin,  quoted, 
rsei  Home  Gazette,  i.  92. 


22  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IX  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY         UK.  I 

under  the  attractive  name  of  a  '  Royal '  Academy.  It  was  not, 
however,  intended  to  rest  on  Court  favour,  but  on  the  support  of  the 
public  at  large.  In  the  list  of  the  provisional  committee  the  name  of 
Thomas  Sandby  appears,  in  company  with  those  of  Reynolds  and 
other  leading  artists  of  the  day. 

This  project,  which  like  the  former  came  to  nothing,  was  also  the 
occasion  of  some  warm  party  feeling  in  the  artist  world.  During 
these  disputes  Paul  Sandby  was  bold  enough  to  exercise  his  talent 
for  caricature  in  an  attack  upon  the  arch-satirist  of  his  day,  the 
veteran  Hogarth  himself,  who  was  on  various  grounds  opposed  to  the 
new  scheme.  The  subject  of  Sandby's  burlesque  was  the  celebrated 
Analysis  of  Beauty  which  the  great  painter  had  published  in  1753. 
The  caricaturist  was  afterwards  ashamed  of  having  turned  into  ridicule 
so  valuable  a  work  by  so  eminent  a  man,  and  showed  his  respect  for 
the  author  by  suppressing  the  plates  which  he  had  etched. 

The  publication  of  Hogarth's  Analysis  was  in  fact  one  of  the  signs 
of  an  age  wherein  the  philosophic  essence  of  fine  art  was  beginning  to 
engage  the  attention  of  cultivated  minds.  When  abstract  theories  of 
beauty  came  to  be  formulated,  and  applied  to  works  both  of  nature 
and  art,  earnest  students  like  Sandby,  who,  instead  of  confining  them- 
selves to  the  imitation  of  old  masters,  drew  from  nature  and  reasoned 
on  what  they  drew,  had  a  better  chance  of  intelligent  appreciation. 
Hogarth's  treatise  led  to  Burke's  Essay  on  the  Sublime  and  Beautiful 
in  1756;  and  to  other  thoughtful  writings  and  discussions  which 
followed,  and,  in  spite  of  errors,  and  the  narrowness  of  some  of  the 
views  then  entertained,  tended  to  bring  to  maturity  a  taste  for  fine  art. 
In  the  next  attempt,  made  a  few  years  later,  namely  in  1759,  by 
a  combination  of  artists,  to  obtain  more  effective  public  recognition, 
Hogarth  and  the  Sandbys  are  found  acting  in  unison.  The  object 
now  was,  not  "to  establish  a  teaching  academy  for  students,  but  to 
benefit  full-blown  practitioners,  by  means  of  a  public  exhibition  of 
their  works.  Pye,  in  his  '  Patronage  of  British  Art,' '  has  insisted  that, 
a  main  object  of  the  scheme  was  to  raise  a  fund  for  the  relief  o 
artists  in  distress.  But  human  nature  must  have  altered  duriH  g  th 
last  century  and  a  half  if  the  projectors  had  not  also  an  eye  tfo  th 
advantage  to  be  derived  from  a  general  show-room  as  a  mea[ns  of 
advertising  artists'  works  with  a  view  to  sale. 

The  idea  had  been  suggested  by  the  popularity  of  a  collection  of 

1  See  pp.  91,  95. 


CH.  II  SANDBY   AND    THE    RISE    OF'    EXHIBITIONS  23 

paintings  presented  by  their  authors  to  the  Foundling  Hospital,  which, 
being  there  on  view,  had  become  a  fashionable  source  of  attraction. 
The  result  of  this  new  agitation  was  the  display,  in  the  year  1760,  of 
sixty-nine  works  of  art,  including  '  Pictures,'  '  Sculpture,  Models,  &c.,' 
and  'Drawings  and  Engravings,'  at  some  rooms  then  occupied  by  the 
Society  of  Arts,  in  the  Strand,  opposite  to  Beaufort  Buildings.1  This 
was  the  first  of  the  many  exhibitions  of  works  on  sale  by  living  British 
artists,  which  from  that  time  have  been  annually  held,  ever  increasing 
in  size  and  multitude,  until  in  our  own  day  their  name  is  legion. 

Next  year  the  association  broke  into  two  societies,  which  held  ex- 
hibitions concurrently  for  many  years.  The  more  important  of  them, 
to  which  the  leading  artists  mostly  belonged,  occupied  a  great  room 
at  Spring  Gardens,  and  received  a  charter  of  incorporation  from  King 
George  the  Third,  in  1765.  But  this  society  was  again  divided  by  a 
secession  of  its  chief  members  in  1768 ;  and  the  seceders,  among  whom 
were  Paul  and  Thomas  Sandby,  secured  the  King's  more  immediate 
patronage,  and  became  the  Royal  Academy  which  now  exists. 

What  concerns  us  here  is  the  influence  of  these  earlier  exhibitions 
upon  water-colour  art.  When  a  new  outlet  was  thus  provided  for 
artistic  talent,  an  important  change  took  place  in  the  connection 
between  draftsman  and  engraver.  Hitherto  the  worker  on  copper 
had  furnished  the  sole  medium  through  which  the  designer's  art  could 
be  presented  to  the  public  eye.  Now  their  relations  were  altered. 
Gradually  they  came  to  be  reversed.  The  draftsman  had  found  a 
double  market  for  his  produce.  It  had  now  become  his  interest  to 
make  his  drawing  attractive  for  its  own  sake,  and  desirable  to  possess 
as  an  original  and  unique  work  of  art,  besides  being  suited  to  the 
publisher's  purpose  of  multiplying  it  by  the  agency  of  the  press.  In 
course  of  time,  but  not  yet,  what  had  been  an  accessory  was  to 
become  the  principal.  Instead  of  drawings  being  made  for  the  pur- 
pose of  suggesting  what  engravings  were  to  be,  engravings  were  to  be 
used  as  after-reminders  of,  or  in  some  respects  incomplete  substitutes 
for,  drawings.  In  that  after-time,  the  water-colour  artist,  mainly  by 
the  charm  of  colour,  was  able  to  impart  attractions  to  his  drawing 
with  which  no  print  could  vie.  He  worked  to  satisfy  a  new  demand, 
and,  receiving  lucrative  employment  from  a  new  class  of  patrons,  he 
finally  became  as  independent  of  the  engraver  as  the  painters  in  oil 
had  been  from  immemorial  time.  How  largely,  nevertheless,  even  to 

1  Pye's  Patronage  of  British  Art,  p.  92  n. 


24  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY        JSK. 

the  latest  period,  many  water-colour  painters  have  still  been  indebted 
for  professional  emolument  to  the  publishers  of  prints  and  illustrated 
works  will  amply  appear  in  the  course  of  the  ensuing  narrative. 

The  topographic  drawings  of  Sandby's  school  hold  an  intermediate 
position  between  the  two  classes  of  draftsmen  above  described.  The 
style  he  adopted  was  admirably  suited  for  the  reproduction  of  his 
drawings  by  engraving,  and  they  at  the  same  time  possessed  qualities 
and  beauties  of  their  own  which  gave  them  a  title  to  be  regarded  as 
independent  works  of  art. 

Sandby  also  painted  in  oil  and  in  tempera.  But  the  style  which 
he  made  specially  his  own,  and  in  which  his  chief  influence  was  ex- 
ercised, is  that  which  is  familiarly  regarded  as  characteristic  of  our 
early  water-colour  school,  the  tinted  drawings  outlined  with  a  pen, 
shaded  in  grey,  and  finished  with  washes  of  local  colour. 

Artists'  colourmen  were  unknown  in  those  days,  and  Whatman's 
paper  was  not  yet  made  at  the  Turkey  Mills.  In  the  collection  '  of 
Mr.  Edward  Basil  Jupp,  F.S.A.,  there  are  preserved  two  curious 
letters  from  Gainsborough,  in  the  first  of  which,  dated  10  November, 
1767,  that  artist,  then  residing  at  Bath,  requests  Mr.  Dodsley,  who 
published  Anstey's  '  New  Bath  Guide,'  to  send  him  some  of  the  same 
sort  of  paper  as  that  on  which  the  fifth  edition  of  that  amusing  poem 
was  printed,  it  being  what  the  artist  had  long  been  in  search  of  for 
making  washed  drawings  upon. 

The  second  letter  is  as  follows  : — 

'Bath:  26th  November,  1767. 
'  To  Jas.  Dodsley,  Pall  Mall,  London. 

'  Sir, — I  beg  you  to  accept  my  sincerest  thanks  for  the  favour  you 
have  done  me  concerning  the  Paper  for  Drawings.  I  had  set  my 
Heart  upon  getting  some  of  it,  as  it  is  so  completely  what  I  have  long 
been  in  search  of.  The  mischief  of  that  you  were  so  kind  as  to 
enclose  is  not  only  the  small  wires,  but  a  large  Cross  wire  at  about 
|  |  this  distance,  which  the  other  has  none  of,  nor  hardly 

any  of  the  impression  of  the  smallest  wire.  I  wish,  Sir,  that  one  of 
my  Landskips,  such  as  I  could  make  you  upon  that  paper,  would 
prove  a  sufficient  inducement  for  you  to  make  still  further  enquiry. 

1  See  A  Descriptive  List  of  Original  Drawings,  Engravings,  Autograph  Letters,  and 
Portraits,  illustrating  the  Catalogues  of  the  Society  of  Artists  of  Great  Britain  from  its 
commencement  in  the  year  1760  to  its  close  in  the  year  1791,  in  the  possession  of  Edward 
Basil  Jupp,  F.S.A.,  1871,  410,  privately  printed.  A  presentation  copy  was  bequeathed  by 
Mr.  William  Smith  to  the  South  Kensington  Museum. 


CH.  ii  SANDBY   AND   THE   RISE   OF   EXHIBITIONS  25 

I   should  think  my  time  well  bestow'd,  however  little  the  Value  you 
might  with  reason  set  upon  it. 

'  I  am,  Sir,  your  much  obliged 

'  And  most  obedient  humble  servant, 

•THO.  GAINSBOROUGH. 

'  P.S.  I  am  at  this  moment  viewing  the  difference  of  that  you  send 
and  the  Bath  guide,  holding  them  edgeways  to  the  light,  and  could 
cry  my  Eyes  out  to  see  those  furrows.  Upon  my  honor,  I  would 
give  a  guinea  a  Quire  for  a  Doz"  quire  of  it.' 

Thus  Sandby  and  his  contemporaries  had  to  draw  on  common 
writing-paper,  with  such  pigments  as  they  could  get  or  manufacture 
for  themselves.1 

Pale  and  weak  as  their  drawings  may  now  appear,  they  were  at 
the  time  of  their  production  remarkable  as  the  first  English  land- 
scapes in  transparent  pigment  in  which  colour  was  at  all  an  element 
of  consideration.  Sandby  chiefly  used  vegetable  pigments.  In  his 
early  drawings  he  employed  the  reed  pen  for  outline.  In  his  second 
and  improved  style  he  subdued  the  rigidity  of  his  outline  and,  by 
repeating  the  tints,  obtained  rich  and  deep  colour  in  the  foreground.2 

Paul  Sandby  contributed  to  the  exhibition  in  the  Strand  in  1760, 
and  to  those  in  Spring  Gardens  from  1761  to  1768,  about  thirty  works 
in  all,  including  oil  pictures  and  drawings  in  tempera.  After  this  date 
he  had  added  the  letters  R.A.  to  his  name,  and  could  exhibit  only  at 
the  Academy. 

Tom  Sandby  had  also  become  an  Academician,  and  was  appointed 
the  first  Professor  of  Architecture  to  the  Royal  Academy.  He  con- 
tinued to  reside  at  Windsor,  where  he  retained  for  life  his  office  of 
Deputy  Ranger,  planning  Virginia  Water,  and  also  practising  as  an 
architect.  With  a  pencil  less  prolific  than  his  brother's,  and  exercising 
less  influence  on  future  art,  he  nevertheless  takes  rank  with  him 
among  the  landscape  topographers  of  his  time.  Redgrave  even  gives 
him  credit  for  '  more  spirit  and  artistic  feeling '  than  Paul's.  Some 
early  views  of  his  native  town,  dated  1741-43,  are  in  the  Art  Museum 
there,  and  four  are  engraved  in  Dr.  Charles  Deering's  Nottinghamia 
Vetus  et  Nova,  4to,  1751.  But  these,  though  correctly  drawn,  follow 
the  conventional  manner  of  their  period,  and  are  certainly  much 

1   Catalogue  of  the  Sandby  Exhibition,  1884. 
*  Sandhy's  History  of  tin  Royal  Academy. 


26  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY          UK.  I 

inferior  to  his  brother's  view  of  Stirling  Castle  published  in  the  same 
year.1  In  1761  he  is  recorded  as  the  exhibitor,  at  Spring  Gardens, 
of  (among  other  drawings)  some  views  of  the  Falls  of  the  Clyde. 
Drawings  by  him,  mostly  architectural,  are  in  the  Royal  collection  at 
Windsor,  and  at  the  British  and  Soane  Museums.  Some  views  in 
Covent  Garden  were  engraved  after  him  on  a  large  scale  by  Edward 
Rooker,  with  the  dates  1766  and  1/68.  Graves2  finds  two  exhibits 
by  him  at  the  Society  of  Artists,  and  nine  at  the  Royal  Academy, 
between  1767  and  1782.  He  lived  till  1798. 

By  the  time  when  Paul  Sandby  had  assumed  the  rank  of  Royal 
Academician,  he  had  left  Windsor  and  come  to  reside  in  London. 
The  catalogues  of  1764-5  describe  him  of  '  Du  Four's  Court,  Broad 
Street,  Carnaby  Market ; '  and  in  1766-8  he  is  in  '  Poland  Street'  In 
or  before  1773  he  took  a  house  in  St.  George's  Row  (No.  4),  on  the 
north  side  of  Hyde  Park,  near  Tyburn  turnpike,  where  he  resided 
during  the  latter  part  of  his  life.  The  gate,  which  stood  a  little  west- 
ward of  the  spot  where  now  stands  the  Marble  Arch,  has  since  been 
removed,  and  the  name  of  the  row  of  houses  changed  to  '  Hyde  Park 
Place,'  the  present  No.  23  being  that  in  which  Sandby  lived.3 

In  1768  he  also  received  the  post  of  principal  drawing-master  to 
the  Military  Academy  at  Woolwich,  which  he  retained  for  the  rest  of 
the  century. 

The  subjects  which  he  exhibited  at  the  Society  of  Artists  tell  us 
something  of  the  rank  and  culture  of  his  patrons  and  friends.  The 
first  work  to  which  his  name  is  attached  in  the  catalogues  is  a  view 
of  Lord  Harcourt's  seat  at  Nuneham.  Next  year  he  had  '  An  His- 
torical Landskip  representing  the  Welsh  bard,  in  Mr.  Gray's  celebrated 
ode,'  which  had  been  published  about  four  years.  The  poets  Gray 
and  Mason,  as  well  as  Lord  Harcourt,  were  among  Sandby's  personal 
friends.  In  1763  he  shows  us  that  he  has  been  among  the  picturesque 
scenery  of  the  North  and  West  Ridings  of  Yorkshire,  and  also  sends  the 
first  of  his  Windsor  views,  representing  a  gate  of  the  Castle.  After 
this  date,  he  has  in  1764  and  1767  views  at  the  seats  of  the  Dukes  of 
Devonshire,  Bolton,  Norfolk,  and  Grafton.  With  these  exceptions 
he  finds  all  his  subjects  at  Windsor.  To  the  friends  and  patrons 
above  mentioned  may  be  added  the  Earl  of  Buchan  and  Dr.  Norbury 
of  Eton. 

Wealthy  and  cultivated  amateurs  were  now  beginning  to  exercise 

1  See  above,  p.  20.  2  Dictionary  of  Artists. 

3  Catalogue  of  the  Sant/fy  Exhibition,  1884. 


CH.  II  SANDI5Y   AND    THE    RISE   OF   EXHIBITIONS  27 

a  kind  of  personal  patronage,  which  was  not  merely  confined  to  the 
purchase  of  works  of  art,  but  afforded  to  artists  means  and  opportuni- 
ties of  study,  together  with  the  elevating  influence  of  cultured  society. 

This  benefit  Paul  Sandby  was  one  of  the  first  to  feel.  He  had 
the  good  fortune,  by  the  excellence  of  his  Windsor  drawings,  to  attract 
the  attention  of  a  man  of  property,  who  not  only  bought  about  seventy 
of  them,1  but  carried  off  the  artist  to  scenes  where  he  was  enabled 
to  enrich  his  portfolio  from  subjects  still  better  suited  to  his  pencil. 
This  was  Mr.,  afterwards  Sir  Joseph,  Banks,  the  celebrated  naturalist. 
He  was  considerably  younger  than  Sandby.  Having  left  Oxford 
in  1763,  he  came  of  age  in  1764,  and  at  the  same  time  acquired  the 
command  of  his  paternal  estate.  In  1766  Banks  visited  Newfound- 
land, and  in  1768  set  out  with  Captain  Cook  on  that  navigator's  first 
voyage  of  discovery,  as  naturalist  to  the  expedition,  returning  home  in 
June  1771.  In  1772  he  made  a  voyage  to  Iceland.  It  was  probably 
after  these  events,  and  most  likely  in  1774,  that  Sandby  paid  his  first 
visit  to  Wales  ;  for  in  1775  drawings  by  him  representing  Welsh  views 
are  named  for  the  first  time  in  the  Royal  Academy  catalogues. 

Besides  Mr.  Banks,  Sandby  had  as  a  travelling  companion  the 
Hon.  Charles  Greville,  with  whom  he  made  several  sketching  tours  ; 
and  he  was  also  induced  by  Sir  Watkin  W.  Wynn,  of  Wynnstay 
in  Denbighshire,  to  extend  his  visits  to,  and  his  illustrations  of,  that 
part  of  the  United  Kingdom.  The  Hon.  Charles  Francis  Greville  was 
the  second  son  of  Francis  the  first  Earl  of  Warwick.  He  was  born  in 
1749,  and  died,  unmarried,  in  1809.  His  brother,  the  Right  Hon. 
George  Greville,  was  born  in  1746,  succeeded  to  the  title,  on  the  death 
of  their  father,  in  1773,  and  died  in  1816.  This  second  earl,  another 
of  Sandby's  patrons,  was  a  prominent  example  of  the  dilettanti  of  his 
time,  and,  as  we  shall  presently  see,  his  patronage  was  exercised  in 
various  ways  to  the  advantage  of  the  rising  water-colour  school. 

The  acquaintance  with  Mr.  Greville  led  to  some  important  results. 
Sandby  was  indebted  to  this  friend  and  patron  for  information  which 
induced  him,  when  past  mid-age,  to  resume  the  practice  of  chalco- 
graphy with  which  he  had  begun  his  artistic  career.  Mr.  Greville  had, 
when  abroad,  been  made  acquainted  with  a  new  process  of  engraving, 
peculiarly  adapted  to  the  reproduction  of  works  in  Sandby's  style, 
which  afterwards  proved  of  signal  service  to  our  native  school  of  land- 
scape and  architectural  drawing.  Its  name  is  Aquatint,  or  Aquatinta. 


wings  were  sold  at  Christie's  on  23  May,  1876,  and  many  of  them  were  then 
purchased  for  Ihe  Queen's  Collection  at  Windsor. 


28  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY         IK.  I 

If  we  compare  a  drawing  with  its  reproduction  in  a  print  made  by 
engraving  on  metal,  or  rather,  if  we  examine  the  condition  of  the 
plate  prepared  for  printing,  we  shall  observe  that,  whereas  the  pen 
lines  of  the  drawing  are  reproduced  by  etched  or  engraved  lines  in 
the  plate,  broad  washes  of  colour  have  to  be  imitated  by  some  kind 
of  roughening  of  its  broad  surface.  Aquatint  engraving  is  a  process  in 
which  the  corrosion  of  an  acid  is  employed  to  effect  this  roughening 
of  the  surface,  as  it  is  employed  to  eat  out  the  groove  of  an  ordinary 
etched  line.  To  imitate  a  pen  line  of  greater  or  less  strength,  the 
etcher  so  indents  the  metal  to  a  corresponding  depth.  To  imitate 
a  wash,  the  aquatint  engraver  so  roughens '  (more  or  less,  accord- 
ing to  the  required  tone)  a  due  area  on  the  face  of  the  plate.  By  a 
union  of  these  two  processes  on  one  plate,  and  the  use  of  ink  of  a 
proper  colour,  almost  exact  fac-similes  can  be  impressed  upon  paper 
of  monochrome  drawings  made  with  pen  and  brush.  For  the  repro- 
duction of  designs  of  this  kind,  the  advantages  of  such  a  process 
over  the  laborious  imitation  of  shadows  by  an  infinity  of  furrows  and 
scratches  separately  ploughed  out  with  a  sharp  tool,  are  too  obvious  to 
insist  upon.  Except  in  their  final  or  tinting  process,  the  drawings 
of  the  old  school,  which  we  are  considering,  were  simply  '  line  and 
wash,'  and  were  thus  exactly  suited  to  the  aquatint  method,  if  that 
art  could  be  brought  to  perfection. 

The  honour  of  inventing  aquatint  engraving  is  ascribed  to  a 
French  amateur,  the  Abbe  de  St.  Non,  author  of  an  illustrated 
Voyage  Pittoresque  des  Royaunies  de  Naples  et  de  Sidle,  executed 
about  1767.  'Several  plates,'  says  Bryan,4 '  were  engraved  by  him.' 
The  painter,  Jean  Baptiste  Le  Prince,  learned  the  process  from  St. 
Non,  and  himself  employed  it  successfully.  Le  Prince  is  said  to 
have  sold  the  secret  to  Mr.  Greville,  who  suggested  its  use  to  Paul 
Sandby  for  the  reproduction  of  his  Welsh  sketches.  Sandby  took  the 
hint,  and  applying  himself  to  the  task  with  his  wonted  intelligence 
and  zeal,  not  only  acquired  great  practical  skill  in  the  new  art,  but 
brought  the  art  itself  to  a  much  higher  state  of  perfection. 

The  immediate  result  of  his  labour  was  the  production  of  the  first 

1  A  broad  distinction  between  an  aquatint  and  a  mezzotint  plate  (apart  from  the  methods 
of  producing  them)  is  that,  in  the  first,  the  roughening  takes  the  form  of  a  net-work  of 
minute  furrows  lying  entirely  belmu  the  original  surface,  while  the  second  is  covered  with  a 
multitude  of  little  points  scratched  up  and  projecting  like  very  fine  bristles  above  that  surface. 

2  Dictionary  of  Painters  and  Engravers. 


I 


CH.  II  SANDBY   AND    THE   RISE   OF    EXHIBITIONS  29 

of  four1  sets,  containing  twelve  plates  each,  of  views  in  Wales,  drawn 
and  engraved  by  his  own  hand.2  The  title-page  of  this  series  is 
itself  a  beautiful  specimen  of  aquatinta  as  applied  to  ornamental 
design.  Within  an  elegant  Greek  border,  the  following  words  appear 
in  white  letters  upon  a  rich  dark  ground  :  'XII  Views  in  Aquatinta 
from  Drawings  taken  on  the  spot  in  South  Wales,  Dedicated  to  the 
Honourable  Charles  Greville  and  Joseph  Banks  Esquire  by  their  ever 
grateful  and  obliged  servant  Paul  Sandby  R.A.  MDCCLXXV.  N°  I.' 
Two  of  these  plates  bear  the  above  date,  and  one,  of  '  South  Gate, 
Cardiff  Castle,'  is  inscribed  '  P.  Sandby,  1774.'  This  may  possibly 
be  the  earliest  English  aquatint.3  Another  series  of  twelve  plates, 
mostly  dated  '  Sep.  1776,'  have  their  subjects  in  North  Wales  ;  and 
a  third  has  the  date  '  Sep.  1777  '  on  the  separate  plates,  although  the 
first  of  them  which  has  a  title  has  the  inscription  'XII  Views  in 
Wales  1776,'  on  the  back  of  a  cart. 

In  these  Welsh  views,  more  particularly  those  of  the  earlier  dates, 
the  engraver,  while  availing  himself  of  the  aquatint  or  resin  ground 
fo:  his  broad  shadows  and  much  of  the  detail,  has  given  additional 
depth  and  spirit  by  a  free  use  of  the  point,  and  employed  other 
devices  to  heighten  the  effect.  In  subsequent  plates  he  trusted  more 
to  the  even  tones  of  the  aquatint. 

Architectural  antiquities  were  not  the  only  subjects  that  Sandby 
sketched  in  Wales.  Some  of  the  views  belong  (to  use  the  nomencla- 
ture of  Turner 4)  to  the  categories  of '  mountainous '  and  '  pastoral ' 
landscape.  These  suffice  to  show  how  much  too  low  a  place  in  the 
history  of  art  is  given  to  Sandby  by  those  who  say  that  his  landscapes 
did  not  get  beyond  mere  topography.5  Besides  effective  composition 
and  graceful  drawing,  there  is  a  natural  freshness  in  the  rural  scenes, 
and  trees  and  foliage  are  depicted  with  truth  and  beauty  rarely 
equalled  by  more  modern  artists.6  There  is  a  view  of  '  Llanberris 
Lake,  Castle  Dol  Badern  and  the  Great  Mountain  Snowden,'  which 

1  Only  three  sets  are  in  the  British  Museum  Print  Room  ;  and  the  dates  on  the  plates 
seem  to  show  that,  as  bound,  the  second  and  third  should  be  transposed  to  give  the  true 
sequence. 

2  One,  of  the  Episcopal  Palace  of  St.  David's,  is  inscribed  '  L.  Wynn  Del'.' 

3  In  the  exhibition  of  the  Society  of  Artists,   1774,  there  were  a  number  of  prints  'in 
imitation  of  washed  drawings,'  engraved  by  F.  Vispre,  F.S.A.  after  Zucchi  and  others,  and 
executed  in  the  same  manner. 

4  In  the  Liber  Studiorum.  5  See  Redgrave's  Dictionary. 

'  See  'Chepstow  Castle,'  and  '  Denufawr  Castle,'  numbered  II1I  and  XI  in  the  last- 
mentioned  series. 


30  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY          I;K.  I 

conveys  a  due  sense  of  magnitude,  and  may  profitably  be  compared 
with  Buck's  feeble  attempt  above  mentioned  at  the  same  subject,  on 
the  one  hand  ;  and,  on  the  other,  with  Turner's  poetical  rendering  of 
it  in  his  '  England  and  Wales.'  In  these  aquatints  of  Sandby's  there 
may  perhaps  be  recognised  an  early  foreshadowing  of  Turner's  great 
work  the  '  Liber  Studiorum,'  the  plates  of  which  are  nearly  of  a  size 
with  Sandby's  Welsh  views,  and  for  the  first  of  which  the  aquatint 
process  was  actually  employed.1 

To  the  year  1776,  if  the  dates  on  the  prints  are  to  be  trusted, 
belongs  a  set  of  large  aquatints  of  Warwick  Castle,  published  by 
Boydell,  and  dedicated  by  Paul  Sandby  to  the  '  Right  Hon.  Geo. 
Greville,  Earl  of  Warwick;'  and  to  that  and  the  following  year  a  series 
of  subjects  at  Windsor.  Like  the  Welsh  views,  they  were  published  by 
Sandby  at  St.  George's  Row.  On  the  first,  dated  Sept.  1st,  1776,  is  a 
dedication  to  the  Duke  of  Montagu.  Among  them,  two  views  of  the 
Terrace  are  enlivened  with  groups  of  figures  of  much  individual 
character  and  humour.  Another,  representing  the  Castle  from  the 
Lower  Court  on  the  fifth  of  November,  with  bonfires,  and  a  rocket 
going  up,  combines  a  Rembrandtesque  richness  in  the  effects  of  light 
with  a  Hogarthian  clement  of  humour  in  the  crowd  of  revellers. 

The  living  incidents  employed  by  Sandby  in  the  treatment  of  his 
subjects  may  often  be  used  as  a  distinctive  test  for  the  classification 
of  the  subjects  themselves.  Thus,  in  picturesque  compositions  which 
do  not  seek  to  portray  a  particular  place,  they  are  but  landscape 
figures  of  the  established  old-master  type,  with  cattle  and  the  like, 
and  no  individual  character.  But,  when  local  facts  and  objects  have 
to  be  rendered,  he  gives  us  the  people  of  his  day,  as  they  lived,  and 
becomes  their  true  historian.  This  was  the  case  in  his  Windsor 
views  ;  and  a  few  years  afterwards  he  recorded,  in  the  same  graphic 
way,  a  feature  of  the  time  so  vividly  that  we  seem,  in  looking  at 
his  work,  to  live  with  him  a  hundred  years  ago.  In  some  large 
prints,  dated  1781,  &c.,  he  depicts  the  soldiers'  camps  in  Hyde  Park, 
St.  James's  Park,  the  Museum  Garden,  and  on  Blackhcath,  Coxheath, 
and  Warley  Common,  which  were  formed  in  1780,  the  year  of  the 
Lord  George  Gordon  riots.  The  original  drawings  of  some,  if  not  all, 
of  these  encampment  scenes  are  in  the  Queen's  Collection. 

Sandby  also  worked  from  drawings  by  other  hands,  generally  of 

1  See  Rawlinson's   Turner's  Lilvr  Studiorum,  and  Pye  and  Roget's  Notes  on   Turner's 
Liber  Studiorum. 


CH.  ll  SANDBY   AND   THE    RISE   OF   EXHIBITIONS  3! 

foreign  subjects  ;  though  he  did  not  himself  travel  abroad.  There 
are  mentioned  twenty-seven  views  (engraved  by  him  after  P.  S. 
Grignon  and  others)  in  North  America  and  the  West  Indies,  obi.  folio, 
1768,  and  4to,  1781.  Some  folio  views  in  New  Jersey  '  painted  and 
engraved  '  by  Paul  Sandby  from  sketches  on  the  spot  by  Governor 
Pownall,  must  have  been  executed  before  1769,  as  the  letters  R.A. 
are  not  affixed  to  Sandby's  name.  He  also  executed  in  aquatint 
a  series  of  large  plates  of  classical  antiquities  in  Greece  and  Asia 
Minor,  after  stained  drawings  made,  between  1763  and  1766,  by 
William  Pars,  A.R.A.  (born  1742,  died  1782),  who  was  sent  out  by  the 
Dilettanti  Society  to  accompany  Dr.  Chandler  and  Mr.  Revett  as 
draftsman.  The  dates  of  execution  of  some  are  1777  and  1779,  and 
of  publication  1779  and  1780.  He  also  engraved,  on  a  large  scale, 
architectural  views  in  South  Italy  after  Fabris,  and  Clerisseau,1  some 
of  which,  dated  1777-8,  are  published  by  himself,  and  some  in 
conjunction  with  A.  Robertson.  Bryan  mentions  also  '  a  series  of 
prints  exhibiting  the  sports  of  the  Carnival  at  Rome  from  drawings 
by  David  Allan  ; 2  and  the  designs  for  Allan  Ramsay's  "  Gentle 
Shepherd,"  by  the  same  artist.' 

Some  large  views  of  Shrewsbury,  Bridgnorth,  and  W'orcester,  bear- 
ing date  I  Nov.  1778,  also  show  Paul  Sandby's  skill  as  an  engraver 
in  another  style. 

It  is  important  to  distinguish  those  of  the  above-mentioned  plates 
which  he  executed  himself  from  his  own  designs,  from  certain  prints 
which  were  engraved  after  Sandby's  drawings  by  other  hands.  The 
former  are,  throughout,  original  works  representing  the  artist  as  a 
'  painter-engraver  '  (peintre-graveur),  and  they  give  a  much  higher  and 
more  just  impression  of  his  power  than  the  latter.  When  he  and 
another  have  engraved  from  the  same  drawing  of  his,  the  contrast  is 
sufficiently  striking. 

A  series  of  1 50  small  prints,  known  as  '  Sandby's  Views,'  must 
nevertheless  be  noticed  as  one  of  the  landmarks  in  the  history  of  that 
kind  of  local  illustration  which  gave  their  chief  employment  to  the 
earlier  water-colour  draftsmen.  They  will  have  to  be  dealt  with  in  a 
fresh  chapter. 

1  Charles  Louis  Clerisseau,  born  1722,  died  1820 ;  a  French  artist  who  drew  in 
water-colours,  and  assisted  Robert  Adam  in  illustrating  the  Kuins  of  Spalatro,  published 
in  1764. 

1  David  Allan  (born  1744,  died  1796)  was  one  of  the  early  water-colour  painters  of 
figure  subjects. 


32  WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY         UK. 


CHAPTER   III 
GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS — ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY 

Wedgwood's  Russian  service  —An  impetus  to  topographic  art — Kearsley's  '  Copper  Plate 
Magazine  ' — E.  Rooker — M.  A.  Rooker — '  Virtuosi's  Museum  ' — '  Oxford  Almanack  '— 
Watts's,  Milton's,  and  Angus's  '  seats'— Advance  in  line-engraving— Woollett  — Byrne — 
Hearne — Middiman — Byrne's  'Antiquities' — Rooker  and  Hearne  compared  -  Archi- 
tectural draftsmen— The  Mallons— Carter — Wheatley — Marlow. 

THE  last  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century  was  the  period  of  a  re- 
markable revival  in  the  taste  for  topography,  which  manifested  itself 
in  a  constant  succession  of  published  works,  containing  views  of 
objects  of  interest  in  the  British  Isles.  The  fashion  seems  to  have 
had  its  rise  in  the  following  series  of  events. 

In  or  shortly  before  the  year  1773,  the  Empress  Catherine  of 
Russia  made  a  proposal  to  Messrs.  Wedgwood  and  Bentley,  the  great 
Staffordshire  potters,  '  for  the  manufacture  of  a  vast  cream-ware 
service,  for  every  purpose  of  the  table  ; '  and  directed  that  on  every 
one  of  the  numerous  pieces  of  which  it  should  be  composed  there 
should  be  enamelled  a  different  view  representing  '  British  scenery.' 
It  was  a  prodigious  task,  extending  far  beyond  the  usual  limits  of 
fictile  or  decorative  art.  But  Wedgwood  and  his  partner  were  men 
of  great  energy,  and  proved  themselves  equal  to  the  occasion.  At 
first  they  staggered  a  little  at  the  proposal. .  There  was  no  full  recogni- 
tion as  yet  of  the  '  beauties  '  of  England  and  Wales  ;  and  the  materials 
for  such  a  work  had  to  be  sought  for  far  and  wide.  Bentley  proposed 
to  despatch  draftsmen  at  once  all  over  the  kingdom  to  take  views — 
'  real  views  and  real  buildings.'  Wedgwood,  estimating  the  required 
number  at  two  thousand,  declared  that '  all  the  gardens  in  England 
would  scarcely  furnish  subjects  sufficient ; '  and,  moreover,  that  to  copy 
pictures  and  do  their  work  tolerably  would  take  no  less  than  two  or 
three  years.  He  was '  perswaded '  that  there  were '  not  enough  Gothique 
Buildings  in  Great  Britain  '  for  their  purpose.  The  partners,  however, 
set  zealously  to  work.  Besides  sending  persons  about  with  a  camera 


CH.  in    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS  -ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY    33 

obscura,  they  ransacked  the  print-shops,  and  made  every  inquiry  they 
could  think  of  for '  the  most  embelished  views,  the  most  beautiful  Land- 
skips,  with  Gothique  Ruins,  Grecian  Temples,  and  the  most  Elegant 
Buildings '  which  our  country  could  furnish.  From  these  sources  they 
eventually  succeeded  in  obtaining  a  sufficient  variety  of  subjects  to 
execute  the  order,  and  painted  on  the  different  articles  1,282  views, 
no  two  of  which  were  alike.  They  were  executed  in  monochrome, 
'  in  enamel  of  a  delicate  black,  which  permits  a  shading  and  finish.' 
The  service  when  complete  was  exhibited  for  a  month  in  June  and 
July,  1/74,  before  going  to  Russia,  at  the  manufacturers'  new  show- 
rooms in  Greek  Street,  Soho,  and  became  a  great  source  of  attraction 
in  the  London  world.  The  catalogue  described  it  as,  '  A  Complete 
set  of  Porcelain  or  Queen's  ware,  ornamented  with  different  views  of 
the  ruins,  country-houses,  parks,  gardens,  and  picturesque  landscapes 
of  Great  Britain  ; '  and  a  short  descriptive  preface  states  that  '  the 
principal  subjects  are  ruins,  remarkable  edifices,  parks,  gardens,  and 
other  natural  objects  which  adorn  Great  Britain,  and  which  merit  the 
attention  of  all  travellers  ; '  and  further,  that  '  the  landscapes  depict 
modern  as  well  as  ancient  buildings — every  taste  studied — natural 
scenes  as  well  as  interiors.' 

The  exhibition  of  this  Russian  service  was  an  epoch  in  the  history 
of  British  topographic  art.  The  production,  or  reproduction,  of  the 
large  number  of  views,  thus  found  to  be  gratifying  to  an  elegant 
taste  of  society,  seems  to  have  acted  as  a  fresh  impetus  to  that  class 
of  drawing,  and  also  to  have  directed  the  course  of  the  ensuing 
flood  of  activity  into  a  particular  channel,  in  which  it  long  remained. 

Some  of  the  measures  which  had  been  taken  by  the  Staffordshire 
potters  in  the  accomplishment  of  their  task  throw  a  light  upon  the 
state  of  patronage  in  their  day.  The  views  on  the  Empress's  tea- 
cups, &c.,  had  been  partly  copied  from  existing  pictures  and 
prints,  and  partly  from  new  drawings  made  for  the  manufacturers 
from  the  objects  themselves.  In  their  choice  of  the  latter  as  subjects 
of  representation  Wedgwood  had  had  a  practical  eye  to  business, 
and  showed  himself  keenly  alive  to  the  tastes  and  requirements  of 
customers  at  home.  His  first  thought  of  picturesque  material  was, 
as  we  have  seen,  confined  within  garden  walls  and  park  palings  ;  and 
the  only  drawings  we  hear  of  as  ordered  by  the  firm  were  of  the 
houses  and  p\t  xsure-grounds  of  the  wealthy.  Wedgwood  had  written 
from  Etruria  to  his  partner  in  London  for  a  camera  to  '  take  to  the 

I) 


34          WATER-COLOUR  ART  IN  EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY  UK.  I 

neighbouring  gentlemen's  seats."  '  I  find  it  will  be  in  my  power,'  he 
says,  'to  pay  some  acceptable  compliments  in  that  way.'  This  policy 
was  successful.  The  county  families  of  Stafford  were  '  highly  pleased  ' 
with  their  priority.  '  From  what  I  perceive  in  the  little  we  have 
done,'  he  continues,  '  I  could  make  it  well  worth  my  while  to  pursue 
the  same  plan  all  over  the  kingdom.'  But  he  has  a  fear  of  making 
enemies  of  gentlemen  who  might  think  themselves  neglected,  either 
by  the  omission  of  the  seat  of  one  'when  his  neighbour's  was 
taken,  or  by  putting  it  upon  a  small  piece,  or  not  flattering  it  suffi- 
ciently.' ' 

The  wary  manufacturer  had  rightly  gauged  the  popular  estimate 
of '  British  scenery,'  for  henceforth  views  of  country  mansions  formed 
the  staple  of  its  graphic  illustration.  The  kind  of  interest  which 
prevailed  in  the  time  of  Kip  and  Badcslade  appears  to  have 
revived.  Habitations  of  the  nobility  and  gentry  again  engaged  the 
pencil  of  the  topographic  draftsman.  In  more  modern  times  the 
idea  has  still  been  cherished  that  mansions  of  the  rich  are  what 
constitute  the  essential  charm  of  rural  scenery.  Who  can  forget  the 
typical  Yorkshire  servant  of  Mr.  Kinglake's  travelling  party,  'who 
rode  doggedly  on  '  from  Belgrade  to  Stambool  '  in  his  pantry  jacket, 
looking  out  for  gentlemen's  seats '  ? 2  Views  of  towns,  ruins,  and 
country  mansions  again  became  the  subjects  which  the  draftsman 
had  to  depict,  together  with  such  so-called  landscape  as  had  been 
arranged  by  professors  of  gardening.  Rural  scenery  was  as  yet  of 
but  small  account. 

It  seems  to  have  been  in  1774,  the  year  of  the  exhibition  of 
Wedgwood's  Russian  service,  that  a  series  of  prints  began  to  be 
published  by  G.  Kearsley,  of  46  Fleet  Street,  in  quarto,  with  the 
name,  The  Copper  Plate  Magazine,  or  a  Monthly  Treasure  for  the 
Admirers  of  the  Imitative  Arts.  Each  number  was  to  contain  'A 
Portrait  of  some  celebrated  Personage,  some  interesting  Historical 
Subject,  or  some  curious  Perspective  View — Executed  by  the  most 
capital  Artists  of  Great  Britain,  and  calculated  to  enrich  the  cabinets 
of  the  curious,  or  to  ornament  the  apartments  of  persons  of  Real 
Taste.'  So  said  the  prospectus.  This  work  was  continued  in  monthly 

1  The  above  facts  are  related  in  the  Life  ofjosiah  Wedgwood  by  the  late  Miss  Meteyard, 
to  whose  kindness  the  present  writer  is  indebted  for  the  above  extracts  from  a  manuscript 
copy  of  the  catalogue  of  the  Russian  service. 

1  Eiithcn,  p.  23. 


CH.  in    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS— ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY    35 

numbers  for  three  years  and  a  half,  and  when  complete  it  contained 
forty-two  portraits,  forty-two  history  pieces,  and  forty-two  landscapes. 
The  landscapes,  with  which  alone  we  are  concerned,  were  '  select 
views  in  England  and  Wales,"  almost  entirely  from  drawings  by  Paul 
Sandby. 

The  engraving  of  the  first  plates  was  the  work  of  the  last  year  in 
the  life  of  an  old  friend  and  fellow-labourer  of  Sandby's,  one  Edivard 
Rooker.  They  had  etched  together  (after  J.  Collins)  a  set  of  illus- 
trations to  Tasso's  Jerusalem,  and  Rooker  had  engraved  some  large 
views  in  London  after  Paul  and  Thomas  Sandby  respectively.1  'Ned 
Rooker '  had  a  versatile  talent.  Besides  being  one  of  the  most 
eminent  engravers,  he  was  reckoned  the  best  harlequin  of  his  time. 
He  was  now  upwards  of  sixty,  and  did  not  live  to  engrave  more 
than  three  plates2  for  the  new  magazine.  These  were  published 
respectively  on  the  1st  of  October,  November,  and  December,  1774. 
The  last  he  did  not  live  to  see  brought  out,  for  he  had  died  on 
the  22nd  of  November.  The  next  print,  representing  '  Wynn  Stay, 
the  seat  of  Sir  Watkin  Williams  Wynn,  Bart.,'  which  appeared  in  the 
number  for  New  Year's  Day,  has  upon  it  the  name  '  M.  A.  Rooker,' 
and  was  accompanied  by  the  following  announcement : — 

'  It  is  with  the  utmost  concern  that  we  acquaint  our  encouragers 
of  the  death  of  Mr.  Edward  Rooker,  whose  loss  we  deplore  not  only 
as  an  artist,  but  as  a  man.  His  demise  is  a  public  calamity,  and  is 
universally  lamented.  To  console  us,  however,  in  some  degree,  we  are 
convinced  by  the  perspective  view  annexed,  that  genius  and  taste  is, 
in  some  instances,  hereditary ;  and  that  Mr.  Rooker  junior  inherits 
all  those  eminent  abilities  as  an  artist,  which  were  so  justly  and  uni- 
versally attributed  to  his  father." 

1  The  writer  (before  quoted)  on  the  '  British  School  of  Engraving  '  in  the  Library  of 
the  Fine  Arts,  iii.   379,  &c.   (1832)  says  of  E.   Rooker:   'To  his  architectural  subjects  he 
gave  a  richness  and  freedom  that  have  never  been  surpassed  ; '  and  of  the  illustrations  to 
Tasso,  which  he  cites  as  the  finest  examples  of  that  engraver's  work  :   '  In  the  boldest  and 
freest  style,  not  excepting  the  works  of  Piazzetta,  whose  manner,  or  rather  force,  they  seem 
to  imitate,  yet  possess  more  variety  in  the  display  of  foliage,  trunks  of  trees,  and  other  materials 
of  landscape  scenery.'     A  large  interior  of  St.  Paul's  Cathedral,  ornamented  as  intended  by 
Wren  (after  John  Gwynn,  R.A.,  with  figures  by  Samuel  Wale,   R.A.),  published  in  1752,  is 
by  some  considered  his  masterpiece.     There  are  also  plates  by  him  in  Chambers's  Civil 
Architecture,  Stuart's  Athens,  and  Adam's  Spalatro ;  he  engraved  many  of  the  headings  of 
the  Oxford  Almanack,  and  etched  four  Italian  subjects  after  Wilson.     Graves  enumerates 
eleven  works  exhibited  by  him  at  the  Society  of  Artists  between  1760  and  1768. 

2  '  Wakefield  Lodge  in  Whitlebury  Forest,'  probably  from  a  drawing  of  Sandby's  exhibite  I 
in  1767,  '  Strawberry  Hill,'  and  '  Datclvjt  Bridge.' 

L)  2 


36  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY        UK  I 

The  son,  whose  accession  to  the  family  burin  was  thus  proclaimed, 
was  already  known  as  a  draftsman  as  well  as  an  engraver.     He  was 
now  more  than  thirty.    His  father  had  instructed  him  in  the  use  of  the 
graver,  and  afterwards  placed  him  with  his  friend  Sandby,  to  be  taught 
to  draw  and  paint  landscapes.     He  proved  a  worthy  successor  and  a 
worthy  pupil  in  his  two  crafts,  and  now  holds  rank  with  Sandby  as 
one   of  the   best    practitioners    in    the    early    style    of  water-colour 
drawing.     He  is  generally  known  as  'MICHAEL  ANGELO'  ROOKER, 
but  his  baptismal  name  was  '  Michael '  only.     'Angelo'  was  a  jocular 
addition,  originally  made  by  Paul   Sandby,  and  afterwards  adopted 
by  his  pupil.     In  a  holograph  will  he  names  himself  '  Michael  Rooker, 
commonly    called    Michael    Angelo    Rooker.'  '       He    had    exhibited 
'stained  drawings 'as  far  back  as  1765,  as  'Mr.  Rooker  Junior,'  at 
the  Spring  Gardens  gallery.     In  1768  we  find  him  exhibiting  a  print 
there,  of  the  '  Villa  Adriana '  after   Wilson,  under   his  own  name, 
with    a    separate    address   'at    Mr.   Smith's,   Long    Acre,"    while  his 
father   resides   in   '  Queen's  Court,    Great    Queen    Street,    Lincoln's 
Inn    Fields.'     In    1769  he  was    admitted    a    student    of  the    Royal 
Academy,    and    in    the    following    year   elected    an    Associate.      In 
1772  he  exhibited  a   painting   of  Temple   Bar  which  gained   him 
much  credit ;    and  in  the  same  year  an  edition   of   Sterne's   works 
was  published  with  some    illustrations    by    him.      His   chief  works 
iii   water-colour  were  of  later  date.     They  will  be  referred  to  more 
particularly    in    the    sequel.     At  present    we  are  dealing    with  him 
only  as  one  of  the  engravers  of  Sandby's   views.     From    1775    to 
1777  most  of  the  landscapes  in  Kearsley's  serial  are  the  work  of  his 
graver.2 

The  '  Copper  Plate  Magazine,'  in  its  original  comprehensive  form, 
then  came  to  an  end.  No  more  '  portraits  '  or  '  history  pieces  '  were  en- 
graved. The  topographical  landscapes,  however,  seem  to  have  been 
in  greater  demand ;  for  a  fresh  issue  was  commenced  under  a  new 
name,  of  monthly  numbers,  each  containing  three  plates  of  Sandby's 
views.  The  title  was  now  The  Virtuosi's  Museum,  containing  Select 
Views  in  England,  Scotland,  and  Ireland  ;  Drawn  by  P.  Sandby,  R.A., 
London.  Printed  for  G.  Kearsley  at  No.  46,  near  Serjeants'  Inn, 
Fleet  Street,  1778.'  The  form  is  long  quarto,  with  letterpress  to 
each  plate,  and  the  engraved  part  of  the  plate  measures  5|  by  7^ 
inches.  A  didactic  preface,  after  setting  forth  the  superiority  of 

1  Edwardu'a  Anecdotes.  -  Some  arc  by  \Yalts  ;  a  few  by  B.  Green. 


CH.  ill    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS-ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY    37 

intellectual  delight  over  sensual  pleasure,  proceeds  in  the  following 
words  : — 

'That  such  is  the  laudable  design  of  the  present  undertaking  no 
one  can  entertain  a  doubt  who  reflects  that  the  student,  as  well  as 
the  admirer  of  the  ingenious  art  of  sculpture,1  will  be  supplied  with 
elegant  engravings  from  the  designs  of  one  of  the  first  artists  of  this 
kingdom  at  the  very  moderate  price  of  one  shilling  for  each  plate, 
instead  of  the  usual  demand  of  from  2s.  6d.  to  $s.  made  for  landscapes 
of  inferior  merit. 

'  What  a  cheap  and  rational  amusement  then  will  these  Gentlemen 
possess  monthly,  for  the  same  consideration  that  is  given  for  one 
night's  admittance  to  the  pit  of  a  theatre!  and  in  the  course  of  a  year, 
what  a  beautiful  addition  will  be  made  to  the  furniture  of  their  apart- 
ments, for  less  than  the  value  of  a  masquerade  ticket ! 

'  It  would  be  superfluous  to  say  more  of  the  design  if  the  execu- 
tion is  answerable,  which  we  flatter  ourselves  cannot  fail  from  the 
great  reputation  of  the  Artists  engaged  ;  we  shall  want  no  policy  of 
insurance,  for  in  the  public  favour  we  shall  find  an  ample  reward  for 
our  labours.  It  remains  only  to  account  for  the  choice  of  our  subjects, 
and  in  this  we  follow  an  illustrious  example.  The  renowned  Empress 
of  Russia,  the  magnificent  patroness  of  every  useful  undertaking 
calculated  to  improve  the  taste  and  polish  the  manners  of  her  subjects, 
without  corrupting  their  hearts,  has  paid  the  highest  compliment  to 
the  genius  and  taste  of  this  country  ;  by  procuring,  at  an  immense 
expence,  views  of  all  the  noblemen  and  gentlemen's  seats,  and  of  every 
delightful  spot  throughout  the  kingdom,  drawn  on  the  spot,  and 
painted  upon  setts  of  china  dishes  and  plates.  If  these  views  appear 
so  enchanting  in  the  eyes  of  this  great  princess,  surely  it  must  afford 
the  highest  satisfaction  to  Britons  themselves  to  have  in  their  posses- 
sion complete  representations  of  them  on  a  better  plan  for  preserva- 
tion and  on  much  easier  terms.' 

'  The  Virtuosi's  Museum '  continued  to  be  published  for  three 
years,  when  thirty-six  monthly  numbers  dated  from  i  February,  1778, 
to  i  January,  1781,  had  appeared,  containing  in  the  whole  108  plates 
in  the  line  manner,  uniform  with  those  of  the  'Copper  Plate  Magazine.' 
Many  of  the  subjects  which  Sandby  himself  had  engraved  much  better 
in  aquatint  on  a  larger  scale,  including  seme  of  the  encampment  scenes, 

1  The  word  '  sculpture  '  for  engraving,  employed  in  that  sense  in  the  days  of  Evelyn's 
Sculptura,  had  not  yet  fallen  into  disuse. 


38  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY        BK.  I 

are  here  repeated.1  In  this  new  series,  Rooker  had  a  much  smaller 
share  than  before.  His  name  only  appears  as  one,  though  perhaps 
the  best,  among  twenty  engravers,2  who  were  employed  upon  the  plates. 
He  was  now  engaged  in  other  work.  He  had  followed  his  father 
as  engraver  for  the  '  Oxford  Almanack,'  the  headings  of  which,  exe- 
cuted by  him  for  a  succession  of  years,  after  his  own  designs,  came  to 
be  highly  esteemed.  Like  his  father,  too,  he  was  connected  with  the 
stage,  though  he  does  not  appear  to  have  trod  the  boards  as  an  actor. 
He  worked  with  his  hands  and  head,  not  with  his  feet,  and  was  for 
several  years  employed  as  principal  scene-painter  to  the  Haymarket 
Theatre,  under  Colman's  management.  In  the  playbills  of  the  day  he 
was  '  Signor  Rookerini.' 

While  Sandby's  views  were  thus  in  course  of  publication,  another 
series  of  a  similar  kind  were  started  by  the  William  Watts  above 
mentioned  as  one  of  his  engravers.  Watts,  like  '  Michael  Angelo,' 
had  been  a  pupil  both  of  Edward  Rooker  and  of  Paul  Sandby,  but 
is  known  chiefly  as  an  engraver.  His  work  is  entitled  :  The  Seats  of 
the  Nobility  and  Gentry  ;  '  in  a  Collection  of  the  most  interesting  and 
Picturesque  Views,  Engraved  by  W.  Watts. — From  Drawings  by  the 
most  Eminent  Artists. — With  descriptions  to  each  view. — Published  by 
W.  Watts,  Kemp's  Row,  Chelsea.  January  1st,  1779.'  There  are  eighty 
plates,  the  subjects  of  which  measure  about  5  by  7|  inches.  This 
series  was  continued  till  about  1786,  when  Watts  went  abroad.  At 
later  dates  he  brought  out  other  topographical  works.3  He  afterwards 
became  blind,  but  lived  till  comparatively  modern  times,  and  died  at 
Cobham  in  Surrey  in  December,  1851,  in  his  hundredth  year.  Red- 
grave, who  gives  us  these  facts,  adds  that  he  was  '  a  good  French  and 
Italian  scholar,  and  a  well-read  man.' 

Next  in  date  is  A  Collection  of  Select  Views  from  the  Different 
Seats  of  the  Nobility  and  Gentry  in  the  Kingdom  of  Ireland, 

1  The  two  series  of  views,  42  in  the   Copper  Plate  Magazine,  and   1 08  in  the  Virtuosi's 
Museum,  afterwards  became  the  property  of  Boydell,  and  were  rearranged  and  republished 
by  him  in  two  volumes,  dated  1782,  1783,  with  the  title  '  A  Collection  of  150  Select  Views 
in  England,  Wales,  Scotland,  and   Ireland,  drawn  by  Paul  Sandby,  R.A.'     In   this  edition 
the  pages  are  upright  instead  of  oblong,  and  the  title-pages  and  descriptive  letterpress  are 
in    English   and  French.     Vol.    I    contains   73    English,  and  vol.    2   contains  17  Welsh, 
27  Scotch,  and  33  Irish  views. 

2  The  others  were  W.  Watts,  Walker,   Ryder  or  Rider,  T.   Cooke,    P.    Mazell,   D. 
Lespinier,  J.   Morris,  F.  Chesham,  Wm.    Ellis,   C.    Duponchel,  Jas.   Fittler,  E.  Scott,  W. 
Angus,  J.  Roberts,  T.  Woodyer,  T.  Medland,  T.  Collyer,  T.  Milton,  and  I.  Scott. 

3  Twelve  Views  of  Bath,  1791  ;  Select  Vieios  in  London,  1800;  Sixty  views  for  Sir  R. 
Ainslie's  Turkey  and  Palestine,  1801-1805. 


CH.  Ill    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS-ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY    39 

'  Engraved  by  Thomas  Milton,  from  original  drawings  by  the  best 
masters.'  It  contains  twenty-four  plates,  in  oblong  4to,  all  engraved 
by  Milton.  The  plates  are  not  all  dated,  but  the  dates  on  those 
which  are,  extend  from  1785  to  1793.  Pye '  says  that  the  work  was 
commenced  in  1783.  Milton  was  a  landscape  engraver  of  much 
repute.  A  considerable  proportion  of  these  views  are  pure  landscape 
subjects,  not  even  containing  a  house  in  sight. 

In  an  English  series  which  followed,  and  also  known  by  the 
name  of  their  engraver,  William  Angus,  the  views  are  strictly  con- 
fined to  representations  of  houses,  standing  in  their  parks  and  ground* 
They  were  entitled  :  The  Seats  of  tlie  Nobility  and  Gentry  in  Great 
Britain  and  Wales,  '  in  a  collection  of  Select  Views  : — Engraved  by 
W.  Angus,  from  Pictures  and  Drawings  by  the  most  eminent  artists, 
with  descriptions  of  each  view. — Published  by  W.  Angus,  Gwynne's 
Buildings,  Islington. — February  i,  1787.'  The  dates  on  the  platesare 
from  February,  1787,  to  September  I,  1797. 

While  topographers  were  thus  re-establishing  the  old  connection 
between  drawing  and  engraving,  the  latter  art  had  been  making 
important  advances.  A  race  of  line  engravers  was  springing  up  in 
this  country,  whose  talent  had  been  specially  cultivated  with  a  view 
to  the  interpretation  of  landscape.  The  father  of  their  school  was 
William  Woollett.  The  life's  work  of  that  distinguished  original 
artist  and  kind,  good  man  was  now  rapidly  drawing  to  a  close.  He 
died  on  the  23rd  of  May,  1785,  at  the  too  early  age  of  fifty,  from  the 
effects  of  an  accident.  Wooflett  himself  had,  in  some  of  his  first 
plates,  employed  his  burin  in  the  service  of  topography,  upon  the 
class  of  subjects  which  we  have  seen  to  be  so  popular — gentlemen's 
seats,  or  their  surroundings  ;  and  he  also  at  a  later  period  engraved 
some  continental  views.2  But  his  triumphs  as  a  landscape  engraver 
were  in  the  exquisite  translations  which  he  made  from  pictures  of 
a  more  '  onventional  kind,  and  from  the  classic  works  of  Richard 
Wilson,  R.A.  It  was  reserved  for  some  of  Woollett's  immediate 
followers,  to  employ  his  more  refined  manner  of  engraving  in  aid  of 

1  Patronage  of  British  Art,  246. 

2  Some  views  in  the  garden  of  Sir  Francis  Dashwood  at  West  Wycombe,  engraved  by 
him  after  drawings  by  William  Hannan,  were  published  in  1757  ;  and  there  are  plates,  dated 
1760,  of  Foot's  Cray  Place  and  Coombank.     Two  views  in  Waller's  garden  at  '  Hall-Barn, 
Beckonsfield,'  must  be  of  the  same  period.     He  also  engraved,  in  1773-4,  some  views  in 
Switzerland   and   elsewhere   after   drawings   by   Win.    Pars,    A.R.A.,    and    in    1779,    the 
Hermitage  at  Warkworth,  after  Ilearne. 


40  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        UK.  i 

the  topographic  draftsmen,  Sandby's  successors,  who  were  the  parents 
of  the  actual  founders  of  our  water-colour  school. 

Three  of  these  engravers  demand  special  notice  in  connection  with 
our  subject,  namely  William  Byrne,  Thomas  Hearne,  and  Samuel 
Middiman.  Their  names  are  associated  with  two  scries  of  topo- 
graphic prints  which,  appearing  contemporaneously  with  those  last 
mentioned,  are  entitled  to  much  higher  rank  than  theirs  as  works  of 
art.  In  the  year  1780,  when  Sandby,  then  fifty-one,  sketched  the 
soldiers  in  the  parks,  and  the  no-popery  mob  burnt  Newgate,  and  the 
Academy  exhibition  went  to  Somerset  House  from  its  old  quarters  in 
Pall  Mall,  they  were  all  in  the  prime  of  life.  Byrne  was  thirty-seven, 
Hearne  thirty-six,  Middiman  thirty.  Hearne  had  been  a  pupil  of 
Woollett's.  Byrne,  though  much  of  his  art  was  original,  or  inspired 
by  Woollett,1  had  studied,  first  under  an  uncle,  and  then  abroad 
under  Aliamet  and  Wille.  Like  Woollett,  he  engraved  large  plates 
after  Claude,  Both,  Zuccarelli,  Vernet,  and,  last  not  least,  Richard 
Wilson.  Middiman  is  stated  in  Stanley's  '  Bryan '  to  have  studied 
under  Woollett  and  Bartolozzi.  Redgrave  calls  him  a  pupil  of 
Byrne's.  However  that  may  be,  he  was  an  excellent  line  engraver, 
particularly  noted  for  his  skill  in  using  the  etching  point. 

THOMAS  HEARNF,  although  he  served  a  six  years'  apprenticeship  to 
Woollett,  and  worked  on  many  of  his  plates,  did  not  go  on  practising 
as  an  engraver,  but  was  led  by  good  fortune  to  devote  his  talent  to 
topographical  drawing.  Coming  to  London  as  a  boy,  from  his  native 
village  in  Wiltshire,  to  learn  a  trade,  he  had  shown  his  aptness  as  well 
as  his  real  liking,  by  gaining,  in  1763,  a  premium  at  the  Society  of 
Arts:  and  when  the  term  of  his  indentures  expired,  he,  in  1771, 
embarked  for  the  Leeward  Islands,  with  their  new  governor  Sir  Ralph 
Payne,  afterwards  Lord  Lavington,  to  draw  for  him  their  characteristic 
features.  After  more  than  five  years  occupied  in  this  undertaking, 
three  and  a  half  of  which  were  spent  in  the  West  Indies,  he  determined 
to  devote  himself  to  making  topographic  drawings,  and  leave  in  other 
competent  hands  the  task  of  engraving  them  on  copper.  In  1777 
Byrne  and  he  combined  their  forces  for  the  production  of  a  work 
on  British  topography,  which,  while  it  revived  a  branch  of  that  study 
that  had  been  somewhat  in  abeyance,  effected  a  distinct  advance  of 

1  Redgrave  says  'he  studied  from  nature  and  formed  his  own  style.'  The  writer  of  the 
'  British  School  of  Engraving  '  in  the  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts  (iii.  379  &c.)  speaks  of  him 
*s  one  of  the  chief  artists  who  followed  that  of  Woollett. 


CH.  in    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS— ARCHITECTURAL    TOPOGRAPHY  41 

style  in  both  their  departments  of  art.  While  Sandby  and  others, 
in  their  views  of  residences  of  the  then  existing  generation,  were 
recording  the  life  of  their  own  time  present,  Hearne  set  himself  to 
depict  the  contemporary  aspect  of  relics  of  the  past.  He  travelled 
over  England  and  Scotland  in  search  of  mediaeval  antiquities,  and 
in  1781  had  executed  fifty-two  drawings,1  of  which  he  made  an 
exhibition  at  the  rooms  in  Spring  Gardens.  At  the  same  time, 
William  Byrne,  who  like  himself  was  a  student  of  archaeology,  was, 
with  the  assistance  of  Samuel  Middiman  and  one  or  two  other 
skilful  artists,  busily  engaged  in  engraving  them  on  copper.  The 
series  of  plates  thus  commenced  extended  over  a  long  course  of  years. 
When  complete,  they  were  collected  in  two  oblong  folio  volumes, 
entitled  Antiquities  of  Great  Britain,  '  Illustrated  in  Views  of  Monas- 
teries, Castles,  and  Churches,  now  existing,  Engraved  by  W.  Byrne, 
F.S.A.  from  Drawings  made  by  Thomas  Hearne,  F.S.A.  with  descrip- 
tions in  English  and  French.  London,  Printed  for  T.  Cadell  and 
W.  Davies,  Strand,  1807.'  The  size  of  the  subjects  is  10  by  "j\  inches. 

To  the  contemporary  display  of  the  talent  of  the  two  eminent 
draftsmen,  Michael  Rooker  and  Thomas  Hearne,  whose  rise  and 
professional  progress  has  been  sketched  in  the  foregoing  pages,  the 
origin  of  British  water-colour  painting  has  sometimes  been  attributed. 
It  would  perhaps  be  more  correct  to  say  that  in  their  works  we  see 
the  culminating  point  of  the  old  topographic  school,  which  was  to  be 
superseded  by  a  more  complete  rendering  of  landscape  in  the  next 
generation. 

In  the  careers  of  Rooker  and  Hearne  there  was  much  in  common, 
as  well  as  in  the  technical  practice  of  their  joint  art.  At  the  same 
time,  there  are  marked  points  of  distinction.  They  were  very  nearly 
of  an  age,  Rooker  having  been  born  in  1743,  and  Hearne  in  the 
following  year.  Both  began,  as  we  have  seen,  as  landscape  engravers. 
Both  attained  to  more  than  common  skill  in  the  use  of  the  burin,  but 
cast  it  aside  in  after  years  for  the  more  congenial  freedom  of  the  pencil. 
Both  adopted  the  '  stained  '  or  '  tinted  '  manner  of  the  topographers 
of  their  time.  But  their  styles  of  art  bear  witness  to  a  difference  of 
perceptive  feeling ;  the  work  of  their  hand  seeming  to  accord  with 

1  Redgrave  {Diet,  of  the  English  School),  who  says  they  'are  dated  from  1777  to  1781, 
the  latter  drawings  exhibiting  more  artistic  feeling.'  The  drawings  in  the  engraved  series  of 
Byrne's  Antiquities  include  others  of  earlier  and  later  dates  ;  one  (of  '  Castle  Acre  Priory  ') 
being  as  early  as  1771,  and  some  being  as  late  as  1788  ;  the  dates  of  publication  of  the  plates 

S'nR  from  1778  to  1806. 


42  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY        BK.  I 

their  personal  disposition.  While  both  were  reputed  men  of  great 
integrity,  Rooker's  manners  are  said  to  have  been  '  somewhat  rough,' ' 
and  Hearne's  '  agreeable,  gentlemanly  and  modest.'  * 

Rooker's  drawing  is  decided  and  vigorous.  His  colour,  not  inhar- 
monious as  a  whole,  is  sometimes  careful  in  textural  detail ;  but  often 
limited  to  a  merely  distinctive  indication  of  general  hues  of  certain 
objects,  the  grounding  grey  of  others  being  left  untinted.  '  He  had,' 
says  Pyne,3  'an  excellent  eye  for  the  picturesque.  Many  of  his 
representations  of  ancient  remains  are  drawn  with  truth  and  charac- 
teristic detail.  .  .  The  views  of  the  colleges  on  the  Oxford  Almanack 
which  were  drawn  and  engraved  by  this  artist,'  adds  the  same  critic, 
'  alone  would  remain  sufficient  testimony  of  his  abilities.'  His  '  groups 
of  figures '  too  are  '  well  drawn  and  well  introduced.' 4  But  his  views 
suggest  little  beyond  what  they  actually  depict.  They  are  devoid  of 
poetry,  and,  in  sense  of  beauty  of  atmospheric  gradations,  are  far 
inferior  to  the  works  of  his  confrere. 

To  Hearne  the  critics  have  justly  assigned  the  higher  place. 
'  Following  Sandby  and  Rooker,  and  next  in  succession  to  them,'  he  is 
held  by  Redgrave  5  to  have  '  greatly  advanced  the  new  art  of  water- 
colours.  Though  weak  in  colour,  his  truth  and  correctness  of  drawing, 
his  tasteful  finish  and  composition,  added  a  new  charm  to  the  art. 
He  used  the  pen,  but  less  obtrusively  than  his  predecessors,  sometimes 
so  tenderly  in  tint  that,  while  adding  greatly  to  the  minute  beauty  of 
his  architectural  forms,  it  gives  a  most  delicate  sharpness  and  comple- 
tion.' Pilkington  6  says  of  Hearne's  works  that  'though  not  remark- 
ably numerous,  they  are  eminently  distinguished  for  some  of  the  best 
qualities  of  the  art.  He  seldom  attempted  the  bolder  effects  of 
nature  ;  but  for  truth,  a  chaste  and  mild  tone  of  colouring,  and  an 
admirable  judgment  in  the  arrangement  .of  the  whole,  they  have 
seldom  been  surpassed  ;  and  it  is  not  too  much  to  say,  that  he  was 
the  father  of  all  that  is  good  in  that  species  of  art,  namely,  landscape 
in  water-colours,  which  has  so  widely  and  conspicuously  diffused  itself, 
and  is  peculiar  to  this  country.'  He  '  substituted  for  Indian  ink  in 
the  shadows  a  fine  grey  tint,  opposing  a  pleasing  warm  hue  to  it,  and 
by  a  judicious  employment  of  the  two  produced  great  harmony.'7 

1   Edwards's  Anecdotes,  264.  2  Pilkington's  Dictionary, 

*  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  65.  *  Redgrave's  Descriptive  Catalogue,  13. 

5  Dictionary  of  the  English  School.  '  General  Dictionary  of  Painters. 
7  MS.  Notes  by  I'anworth. 


CH.  Ill    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS— ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY    43 

Graves  finds  that  between  the  years  1765  and  1806  he  exhibited 
seventy-eight  works  ;  forty-two  at  the  Incorporated  Society  of  Artists, 
twelve  at  the  Free  Society,  and  twenty-four  at  the  Royal  Academy. 
Drawings  by  him  were  engraved  in  other  works  besides  the 
'  Antiquities,'  and  in  separate  prints.  Three  of  '  Watts's  Seats '  are 
from  his  designs.  His  subjects  are  generally  ruins  of  Gothic  architec- 
ture, but  there  are  at  the  British  Museum  some  views  of  Greek  temples 
in  Sicily,  executed  by  him  in  conjunction  with  Mr.  Charles  Gore. 

Contrasting  somewhat  with  the  artists  just  mentioned,  but  be- 
longing to  the  same  topographic  group,  and  working  with  the  same 
materials  and  method,  were  a  set  of  draftsmen  who  more  strictly  repre- 
sent the  architectural  element  in  the  illustration  of  their  time.  Less 
picturesque  in  their  choice  of  subjects  than  Rooker  and  Hearne,  and 
still  more  prosaic  than  the  former,  they  perhaps  were  better  fitted,  by 
a  precise  manner  and  neat  manipulation,  for  the  particular  kind  of 
work  which  they  undertook.  The  most  conspicuous  among  these 
were  Thomas  Malton  and  John  Carter,  both  born  in  1748,  and 
therefore  four  years  younger  than  Hearne.  The  former  was  em- 
ployed to  portray  the  modern  buildings  of  the  period,  the  smoothness 
of  dressed  stone,  the  symmetry  of  Italian  facades.  The  latter  made 
a  faithful  record  of  the  features  of  our  ancient  edifices.  But  it  was 
strictly  from  an  architect's  point  of  view.  He  did  not  seek  to  convey 
the  venerable  aspect  of  their  walls  as  affected  by  time  and  natural 
decay.  In  his  small  views  of  cathedrals,  in  Indian  ink  slightly  tinted, 
there  is  some  tender  sense  of  atmosphere.  But  his  works  scarcely 
come  within  the  category  of  Landscape. 

In  1780,  John  Carter  began  to  make  strictly  architectural  drawings 
for  the  Society  of  Antiquaries,  and  he  was  so  employed  to  the  end  of 
the  century.  Many  of  these,  beautifully  executed,  of  sectional  and 
other  views  of  English  cathedrals  (some  of  them  still  unengraved),  are 
in  the  possession  of  the  society.  Carter  is  best  known  by  his  various 
engraved  works.  He  was  himself  a  writer  on  Gothic  Architecture. 
He  is  also  said  to  have  painted  the  scenery  of  two  operas  which  he 
composed  for  the  stage. 

Thomas  Malton,  usually  called  '  the  younger,'  was  the  son  of 
Thomas,  or  Thomas  A.  Malton,1  a  draftsman  of  the  same  class,  born 
in  1726,  whose  age  was  therefore  intermediate  between  those  of  the 

1  Redgrave's  Dictionary.  In  Stanley's  Bryan  these  two  Maltons  are  combined  in  one 
personality. 


44  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        RK.  I 

two  Sandbys.  The  father  is  said  to  have  gone  to  Dublin  in  or  before 
1769,  after  failing  as  a  London  upholsterer  in  the  Strand  ;  and  to  have 
lived  poorly  by  teaching  perspective.  In  1775  he  published,  as  Joshua 
Kirby  had  done  more  than  twenty  years  before,  a  Treatise  on  Per- 
spective on  the  Principles  of  Dr.  Taylor.  Graves  finds  five  works 
exhibited  by  him  at  the  Royal  Academy  between  1772  and  1785,  and 
Redgrave  describes  his  drawings  as  being  '  finished  in  Indian  ink, 
slightly  tinted,'  and  tells  us  that  after  living  again  for  some  time  in 
London,  he  eventually  died  in  Dublin  in  1801. 

Drawings  by  Thomas  Malton  the  younger  are  found  named  in  the 
exhibition  catalogues  from  an  earlier  to  a  later  date  than  his  father's, 
namely  from  1768  to  1803  : — two  at  the  Free  Society,  and  128  at  the 
Royal  Academy.  He  contributed  five  views  to  '  Watts's  Seats  ; '  and 
there  is  one  '  View  near  Bath  '  by  him  in  Middiman's  series  of  landscape 
prints.  But  there  is  usually  nothing  about  his  works  that  savours 
of  the  country.  He  was  essentially  a  drawer  of  modern  streets,  his 
education  in  art  having  been  more  that  of  a  practical  architect  than  a 
painter's.  He  was  for  three  years  in  the  office  of  Gandon,  who  erected 
some  of  the  principal  buildings  in  Dublin.  These  he  made  the 
subjects  of  large  perspective  drawings,  tinted  as  usual  upon  a  carefully 
shaded  Indian  ink  foundation.  In  1780  we  find  him  at  Bath,  drawing 
the  stately  stone  houses  of  that  fashionable  resort,  and  at  a  later  date 
he  came  to  London,  where  he  made  a  vast  number  of  views,  and 
published  them  in  a  series  of  prints.1  Malton  also,  like  so  many  of 
the  best  draftsmen  of  his  time,  was  employed  as  a  scene-painter, 
and  attained  to  some  success  in  that  branch  of  art  at  Covent  Garden 
Theatre. 

There  was  a  third  artist  of  the  same  surname,  possibly  another 
son  of  old  Thomas  Malton,  known  as  James  Malton.  He  made  and 
published  a  series  of  Picturesque  Views  of  the  City  of  Dublin  between 
1791  and  1795,  while  the  younger  Thomas  was  illustrating  in  the 
same  way  the  cities  of  London  and  Westminster. 

Thomas  Malton's  streets  are  well  peopled,  and  enlivened  with  the 
incidents  of  the  daily  life  of  his  time.  Within  their  limits,  they  con- 
tinue the  illustrative  record  of  domestic  history  which  Sandby  had 
been  jotting  down  from  an  earlier  date.  The  figures  are,  indeed,  more 

1  A  Picturesque  Tour  through  the  Cities  of  London  and  Westminster,  2  vols.  Svo,  1792. 
He  also  published  Picturesque  Vinos  in  the  City  of  OxforJ,  410,  1802.  And  he  taught 
Turner  perspective. 


CH.  in    GENTLEMEN'S  SEATS— ARCHITECTURAL  TOPOGRAPHY    45 

conventional  than  Sandby's,  though  both  these  draftsmen  are  said  to 
have  been  assisted  in  this  important  element  by  the  same  artist, 
one  who  claims  further  notice  on  his  own  account,  namely  Francis 
Wheatley,  R.A. 

Wheatley,  though  in  the  main  an  oil-painter,  practised  much  in 
water-colours  also  ;  and,  in  the  washed  or  tinted  manner  of  his  day, 
drew  both  figures  and  landscapes  well.  Many  of  his  works  are  the 
subjects  of  prints,  the  most  widely  known  being  that  of  the  riots  of  '80, 
engraved  by  James  Heath.  Wheatley's  figures  are  too  elegant  to 
have  much  individual  character.  He  evidently  did  much  more  for 
Malton  than  for  Sandby.  He  was  born  in  1747,  in  London,  and 
learnt  his  art  there,  but  painted  portraits  for  some  years  in  Dublin, 
where  he  probably  came  to  know  the  Maltons.  As  a  painter  of  rustic 
landscape,  wherein  his  talent  chiefly  lay,  he  must  be  included  among 
a  group  of  artists  with  whom  the  Maltons  and  their  brother  topo- 
graphers had  little  in  common. 

Although  William  Marlow  was  another  artist  well  known  for  his 
views  of  public  buildings,  it  was  chiefly  as  a  painter  in  oils.  He  also 
studied  in  water-colours,  and  made  drawings  of  Italian  seaports,  &c. 
They  were  chiefly  dependent  on  outline,  and  were  crude  in  colour. 


46  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        BK.  i 


CHAPTER   IV 

PICTURESQUE   TOPOGRAPHY 

Middimnn's  'Views' — Natural  scenery — Gainsborough — His  influence — His  love  of  trans- 
parency—His camera — Wheatley  in  landscape— Barret,  R.A. — Unfairly  contrasted  with 
Wilson — His  career — Sir  George  Beaumont's  panorama. 

ALTHOUGH  we  are  approaching  the  time  when  water-colour  art  was 
to  emancipate  itself  from  its  old  subserviency  to  engraving,  it  will  still 
be  convenient  to  employ  the  chalcographic  publications  of  the  time  as 
a  thread  whereon  to  string  our  historic  notes  of  the  draftsmen  whose 
works  they  represent. 

Distinguishable  from  the  '  Virtuosi's  Museum  '  by  their  superiority 
of  execution,  and  both  from  that  work  and  from  Byrne's  '  Antiquities  ' 
by  the  nature  of  their  subjects,  are  the  series  of  fifty-three  Select 
Views  in  Great  Britain  '  engraved  by  5.  Middiman  from  Pictures 
and  Drawings  by  the  most  eminent  Artists,  with  Descriptions,'  which 
were  published  by  that  engraver  at  3  Grafton  Street,  Tottenham  Court 
Road,  from  1783  till  1787.  They  also  mark  an  epoch  when  land- 
scape was  beginning  to  free  itself  from  the  trammels  of  topography  ; 
or,  to  speak  more  correctly,  when  the  lines  along  which  the  two  arts 
had  been  separately  advancing  had  begun  to  converge. 

The  approach  on  the  one  side  had  been  mainly  the  work  of 
Sandby,  Rooker,  and  Hearne.  That  on  the  other  was  greatly,  if 
not  entirely,  due  to  Gainsborough.  That  thoroughly  English  artist, 
though  some  of  his  landscapes  may  seem  conventional  in  modern 
eyes,  was  the  first  to  tell  his  countrymen  of  the  wealth  of  beauty  that 
lay  wasting  its  sweetness  in  the  rural  lanes  and  woods  and  hedgerows 
of  their  native  land.  Wilson  might  shed  a  halo  of  southern  sunshine 
over  Welsh  hills,  and  perch  Olympian  gods  upon  our  northern  cumuli. 
Taverners  might  copy  Poussin,  and  Smiths  of  Derby  make  free  with 
Claude.  Even  Gainsborough  himself  got  something  from  the  Dutch, 
and  conventionalized  after  his  own  fashion.  But  in  his  pictures  we 
have  the  foundation  of  a  school  of  landscape  which  neither  imports  a 


CH.  iv  PICTURESQUE   TOPOGRAPHY  47 

foreign  element,  nor  contents  itself  with  a  mere  recording  of  the  look 
and  shape  of  individual  objects.  It  makes  the  sensation  of  abstract 
beauty,  of  form,  of  tone,  and  of  colour,  its  leading  motive  in  the 
selection,  but  still  more  in  the  treatment,  of  its  subject ;  while  it  seeks 
at  the  same  time  to  convey  as  strong  an  impress  as  possible  of  the 
character  of  the  scenery  it  depicts.  It  was  only  in  the  succeeding 
generation  that  these  two  principles  came  to  be  combined,  in  a  form 
of  topography  in  which  local  objects,  though  furnishing  the  primary 
motive,  were  subjected  to  an  artistic  treatment  either  poetic  or  merely 
picturesque,  which,  by  exalting  the  theme,  constituted  in  itself  the 
work  of  art  that  charmed  the  spectator.1 

Gainsborough  himself,  though  he  made  studies  in  chalk  and  even 
in  water-colour,  was  essentially  a  painter  in  oils  ;  and  it  is  merely  in 
his  general  influence  on  landscape  art,  as  practised  after  his  time  by 
water-colour  draftsmen,  that  he  demands  notice  here.  He  died  in  1788 
at  the  age  of  sixty-one.  Had  he  belonged  to  the  generation  that 
succeeded  his,  he  must  inevitably  have  excelled  in  water-colour  paint- 
ing. There  is  evidence  that  he  had  a  singular  appreciation  of  the 
beauty  of  transparent  colour.  Had  he  lived  to  learn  the  fullness  and 
depth  with  which  water-colours  could  be  used,  he  would  have  hailed 
the  discovery  with  special  delight.  During  the  latter  years  of  his  life 
he  occupied  himself  with  experiments  in  transparent  painting,  as  a 
means  of  representing  luminous  and  atmospheric  effects.  Angelo, 
in  his  own  Reminiscences?  mentions  Gainsborough's  admiration  of  some 
transparent  scenery  during  the  carnival  of  Venice.  The  absorbing 
fascination  exercised  upon  him  by  Loutherbourg's  Eidophusikon, 
which  represented  nature  in  a  similar  way,  is  well  known.  It  is  said 
that  he  was  '  so  possessed  with  the  magical  richness  of  transparencies 
that  he  occasionally  made  studies,  and  lighting  them  from  behind,  from 
these  emulated  their  splendour  in  his  pictures,' and  that  'owing  to  this 
practice  some  of  his  latest  works  are  remarkable  for  violent  contrasts 
and  wanting  in  that  stillness  and  harmony  which  characterised  his 
earlier  labours.'3  Impelled,  itis  believed,  by  the  charm  of  Loutherbourg's 
show,  and  further  entranced  by  Jarvis's4  exhibition  of  stained  glass,  he 

1  'Art  I  define  as  a  whole,  wherein  a  large  element  of  beauty  clothes  and  makes  accept- 
able  a   still   larger   element  of  truth.'     (C.    Coquelin  on   'Acting   and    Actors,'  Harper's 
Magazine,  May  1887.)     The  definition  applies  to  graphic  as  well  as  to  histrionic  art. 

2  Vol.  i.  p.  10.  '  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  8. 

4  The  glass  stainer  who  executed  the  west  window  of  New  College,  Oxford,  from  Sir 
Joshua  UcynoUls's  designs. 


48  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        UK.  I 

devised  and  constructed  a  small  camera  or  peep-show  of  his  own,  in 
which  by  means  of  slides  painted  by  him  on  glass,  and  litup  with  candles 
from  behind,  he  was  enabled  to  depict  landscapes  under  various  condi- 
tions of  light  and  air.  In  his  latter  years,  he  was  in  the  habit  of 
sketching  designs  for  this  show-box  exhibition,  while  intimate  friends, 
who  called  upon  him  in  an  evening  stroll,  sat  by  and  sipped  their  tea.1 
At  the  painter's  death,  he  left  the  camera  to  his  unmarried  daughter, 
from  whom  it  was  purchased  by  Dr.  Monro.2 

Among  Middiman's  views  there  is  nothing  by  Gainsborough.  But 
some  of  the  earliest  and  best  are  from  drawings  or  pictures  by  his 
brother  Academicians  Francis  Wheatley  and  GEORGE  BARRET.  Barret 
was  a  foundation  member  of  the  Academy  in  1768.  Wheatley  was 
not  elected  until  1791.  Their  views  were  taken,  not  from  the  haunts 
of  men,  but  from  parts  of  the  country  where  Nature  had  her  sway 
uncontrolled  ;  nearly  all  from  the  scenery  of  the  Lakes.  When  the 
series,  originally  published  by  Middiman,  and  then  continued  at 
irregular  intervals  by  the  Boydells,  was  finally  made  up  at  the  end  of 
i  Si 2  to  fifty-three  views,  the  complete  work  was  issued  in  one  volume 
with  an  advertisement  claiming  for  the  collection  the  merit  of  '  being 
among  the  first  to  have  created  a  taste  for  the  sublime  scenery  of 
Great  Britain.  The  Lakes  and  Mountains  of  Westmoreland,  Cumber- 
land, and  Lancashire,  now  the  general  resort  of  the  Tourist  and  the 
admiration  of  the  Painter,  were  but  little  noticed  at  the  time  of  the 
Publication  of  the  early  Numbers,  though  representations  of  them  at 
present  abound.'  So  runs  the  advertisement,  the  historic  truth  of 
which  there  is  no  reason  to  doubt.  '  Middiman's  views '  mark  a 
new  departure  in  British  landscape  art.  They  had  fairly  broken  the 
bounds  of  old-fashioned  topography. 

A  classified  list  of  the  complete  series  of  these  views  shows  that 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ubi  supra. 

2  Gainsborough's  camera  was  shown  in  W.  B.  Cooke's  exhibition  of  drawings  at  9  Soho 
Square  in  1824,  with  some  of  the  views.      It  remained   in  Dr.   Monro's  possession  until  his 
death  in  1833,  after  which,  at  the  dispersal  of  his  collection,  it  was  sold  by  Christie,  with  ten 
subjects,  to  Mr.  Benoni  White,  the  dealer,  of  Brownlow  Street,   Holborn.     By  him  it  was 
bequeathed  to  Mr.  G.  W.  Reid,  late  Keeper  of  Prints  to  the  British  Museum.      It  was  for  a 
short  time,  in  December  1881,  to  be  seen  at  Mr.  Hogarth's,  the  dealer's,  in  Mount  Street. 
It   was  again   placed   on  view  with  twelve  glass  paintings,  by  Sir   Coutts  Lindsay,  in  his 
'  Grosvenor  Gallery,'  in  the  collection  of  Gainsborough's  works  in  the  winter  of  1884  85  ; 
but,  not  being  lighted  in  the  manner  intended  by  the  painter,  it  there  failed  to  receive  due 
attention.     One  of  the  slide  subjects  was  shortly  afterwards  etched  by  M.  Brunei  de  Baines, 
with  the  name   'Worcester,  a  Peep  between   Trees.'     On  29  March,  1890,  it  waf  sold  at 
Christie's,  with  the  twelve  landscapes,   for  205  guineas.     It  is  said   that  at  a  formei   sale 
they  were  bought  in  at  I,2OO/. 


en.  iv  PICTURESQUE  TOPOGRAPHY  49 

they  contained    fifteen  '  Mountains  &c.,'  fourteen  '  Rural  Prospects,' 
sixteen  '  Lakes,  Bays,  &c.,'  and  eighteen  '  Rivers,  Cascades,  &c.' 

The  eight  views  contributed  by  Wheatley  give  a  fair  sample  of  his 
quality.  They  at  least  bear  out  the  Messrs.  Redgrave's  '  estimate 
that '  his  forte  lay  in  landscape  with  rustic  figures,  treated  with  taste, 
but  marked  by  an  over-refined  prettiness.' 

George  Barret  was  a  more  conspicuous  artist.  But  he  scarcely 
seems  to  hold  now  his  true  place  in  the  history  of  British  art,  owing 
to  comparisons  habitually  made,  and  justly  so,  with  some  of  his  greater 
contemporaries,  more  especially  with  Wilson.  Unfortunately  for 
Barret,  it  is  in  such  comparisons  that  his  name  most  frequently  occurs 
in  the  literature  of  art.  We  are  accustomed  to  read  that  while  poor 
Wilson  (an  Academician  too)  was  suffering  in  neglect,  and  looking 
to  posterity  alone  for  the  fame  he  deserved,  and  while  people  of  rank 
and  fashion,  who  came  to  sit  to  Gainsborough,  swept  by,  without 
bestowing  a  glance  on,  his  row  of  unsold  landscapes,  a  misdirected 
patronage  extolled  the  genius  of  Barret,  who  made  (and  spent)  his 
thousands  a  year  by  practice  in  that  branch  of  art. 

No  one  in  the  present  day  would  venture  to  place  Barret  in  the 
same  rank,  as  a  painter,  with  Wilson    or   Gainsborough.     But   his 
influence  on  the  art  of  his  time  must  in  some  degree  be  measured  by 
his  popularity  while  he  lived.     He  is  described  as   a  man  of  genial 
disposition,  playful  in  manner,  of  high  spirits,  and  a  strong  turn  to  wit 
and  humour.     Pyne,  who  remembered  him,  says  that  he  was  not  only 
'  warm-hearted   and   highly  esteemed,'  but  '  an  enthusiast  in  his  art.' 
No  doubt  he  was  indebted  for  much  of  his  position  and  success  to 
the  friendly  offices  of  persons  of  distinction.     Edmund  Burke  set  him 
to  study  the  scenery  of  Lord  Powerscourt's  park  near  his  native  Dublin, 
in  which  city  he  had  been  employed,  as  greater  painters2  than  he  were 
afterwards  employed  in  London,  in  colouring  prints.     When  Barret 
came  to  London  in  I/62,3  Lord  Dalkeith  paid  him   i,5oo/.  for  three 
pictures.    In  his  latter  days,  when  his  health  failed  and  he  had  spent  even 
more  than  he  had  earned,  Burke  again  came  to  his  relief  and  obtained 
for  him  the  well-paid  and  apparently  sinecure  post  of  Master  Painter 
to   Greenwich  Hospital.     Besides  being  an  original  member  of  the 
Royal  Academy,  he  was  one  of  the  most  active  of  its  founders.     No 
doubt  he  was  greatly  overrated.     But  he  was  the  fashionable  landscape 
painter  of  the  day.     His  pictures  gained   premiums  in   Dublin  and 

'   Century  of  1'ainters,  i.  440.  "  Turner  and  Girtin.  '  Redgrave. 

K 


50  WATER-COLOUR   ART    IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY       BK.  I 

in  London.  Graves  enumerates  fifty-two  works  by  Barret  in  the  ex- 
hibitions of  the  older  societies  and  the  Academy  between  1764  and 
1786.  Even  he  drew  gentlemen's  seats.  There  are  five  such  views 
of  his  in  Watts's  series. 

A  continuous  view  of  Cumberland  Lake  scenery,  which  he  painted 
on  the  walls  of  a  large  room  at  Norbury  Park,  then  the  residence  of 
the  Rev.  John  Locke,  was  the  talk  of  society.  According  to  the 
Messrs.  Redgrave,1  it  was  in  oil,  but  Pyne 2  says  it  was  painted  in  body- 
colours,  '  or  what  is  termed  by  the  French,  who  excel  in  that  process, 
gwashf  and  accounts  it '  among  the  best  of  the  earliest  efforts  of  the 
English  school  of  landscape.'  The  latter  writer  further  informs  us 
that  this  wall  decoration  has  been  regarded  as  the  precursor  of  the 
cylindrical  pictures  which  were  in  later  years  so  long  popular  under 
the  name  of '  the  Panorama.'  It  is  said  that  Sir  George  Beaumont, 
on  the  suggestion  thus  afforded,  actually  built  a  small  circular  room 
by  way  of  experiment,  from  the  centre  of  which  the  spectator's  eye 
could  sweep  the  complete  horizon  of  a  Welsh  view  painted  all  round 
him  on  the  wall. 

Barret's  works  are  unequal,  his  earlier  being  heavier  than  his  later 
manner  ;  and  some  of  his  pictures  are  said  to  have  suffered  from 
changes  in  the  pigments  he  used.  His  'stained  drawings'  are 
scarcely  of  importance  enough  to  entitle  him  to  rank  as  one  of  the 
founders  of  our  water-colour  school ;  but  he  had  an  influence  upon  its 
landscape  art,  not  only  as  an  early  painter  who  devoted  himself  to  the 
representation  of  English  scenery,  feeling  and  portraying  its  richness 
and  the  charm  of  its  dewy  verdure  at  spring-tide,  but  by  the  sound 
training  which  he  seems  to  have  given  to  an  artist  of  greater  talent, 
who  inherited  his  name  and  was  one  of  the  first  members  of  the 
Water-Colour  Society. 

1   Century  of  Painters,  i.  107-8.  *  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  46. 


5' 


CHAPTER   V 

TRAVELLING  ARTISTS  ;    AND  ALEXANDER   COZENS 

John  Smith — William  Pars — John  Cleveley— John  Webber — Francis  Smith— William 
Alexander — Influence  of  travellers  on  the  Water-Colour  School — Alexander  Cozens  —  His 
origin  and  marriage —Teaches  amateurs  at  Bath  —His  method  of  composing  landscapes  — 
Gainsborough  and  amateur  sketchers — Cozens's  published  works. 

ANOTHER  artist,  of  a  name  so  common  as  to  be  of  itself  a  drawback 
to  distinction,  appears  as  a  contributor  of  designs  for  six  of  the  earlier 
plates  to  Middiman's  '  Views.'  This  was  John  Smith,  a  man  destined 
to  do  more  than  either  of  the  above  to  advance  the  art  of  water- 
colour  painting.  The  last  of  the  plates  after  his  designs  is  dated  25 
May,  1785.  He  then  set  off  for  Italy  with  the  Earl  of  Warwick;  and 
it  was  during  the  next  ten  years  that  he  changed  his  old  manner  of 
tinting  his  drawings  for  the  more  effective  method  of  using  colour 
which  was  afterwards  developed  into  the  practice  of  the  modern 
school.  More  will  be  said  of  him  by-and-by.  In  the  mean  time  the 
employment  on  which  he  was  engaged  demands  our  consideration. 

While  the  scope  of  British  topography  had  been  widening,  and 
an  increasing  number  of  draftsmen  had  thus  found  employment  for 
their  talent,  a  demand  had  arisen  for  artists  of  the  same  kind  to 
undertake  the  like  task  beyond  the  limits  of  the  British  Isles.  With 
the  love  of  inquiry  into  times  remote  there  had  also  come  a  thirst  for 
knowledge  of  distant  places.  Voyages  of  discovery  were  promoted 
in  the  interests  of  science ;  and  a  taste  for  travel,  combining  with  the 
dilettante  spirit  of  art,  had  resulted  in  the  exploring  of  classic  sites  and 
in  continental  touring  by  persons  of  wealth  and  leisure.  The  records 
of  these  various  expeditions  took  the  form  of  illustrated  books,  for 
which  the  line  engravers  of  the  day  reproduced  many  views  made  on 
the  spot  by  draftsmen  employed  for  the  purpose. 

Hence  arose  this  wider  demand  for  workers  in  water-colour.  The 
same  simple  method  of  drawing  which  they  had  found  suitable  to 
home  views,  proved  equally  available  in  foreign  travel.  For  the  rapid 


52  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY       BK.  I 

and  permanent  record  of  local  facts  there  has  not  even  yet  been 
discovered  a  more  handy  and  expressive  style  of  sketching,  than  that 
adopted  by  the  old  topographers  Sandby  and  Rooker  ;  and  it  was 
employed  by  the  travelling  artists  who  accompanied  expeditions 
round  the  world,  or  were  taken  out  by  noblemen  on  the  '  grand  tour ' 
of  Europe.  Some  of  these  artists  played  an  important  part  in  the 
formation  of  the  school  of  landscape  which  afterwards  became 
identified  with  the  old  Water-Colour  Society. 

Hearne,  as  we  have  seen,  had  practised  his  pencil  abroad,  when 
employed  by  the  Governor  of  the  Leeward  Islands. 

William  Pars,  A.R.A.,  known  also  as  a  portrait  painter,  who  died 
at  forty  in  1782,  drew  Greek  ruins  for  the  Dilettanti  Society  between 
1763  and  1766,  some  of  which  were  aquatinted  by  Sandby  and  some 
engraved  in  line  by  Byrne ;  and  he  also  travelled  on  the  Continent 
with  Lord  Palmerston,  and  took  views  of  Rome  and  among  the 
Tyrolese  and  Swiss  Alps,  some  of  the  latter  of  which  were  engraved 
by  Woollett.  He  exhibited  stained  drawings  at  the  Royal  Academy, 
where  Graves '  finds  twenty-seven  of  his  works,  besides  thirteen  at 
the  earlier  societies'  galleries,  between  1760  and  1800.  Ten  of  his  views 
were  in  Dr.  Percy's  collection,  sold  at  Christie's  on  22  April,  1890. 
They  were  treated  with  an  elegant  sense  of  the  picturesque,  and  his 
tinted  greys  have  an  agreeable  warmth  of  tone. 

John  Cleveley,  a  marine  painter  who  learned  water-colours  from 
Paul  Sandby,  accompanied  Mr.  Banks  on  his  tour  in  Iceland  in  1772, 
and  was  draftsman  to  the  voyage  to  the  north  seas  undertaken  in 
1774  by  Captain  Phipps  (afterwards  Lord  Mulgrave).  He  died  in 
1786  at  about  the  same  age  as  Pars. 

John  Webber,  R.A.,  was  born  about  seven  years  after  Cleveley, 
and  survived  him  by  about  the  same  period.  He  went  out  as 
draftsman  with  Captain  Cook,  illustrated  that  navigator's  third  and 
last  voyage,  and  depicted  as  an  eye-witness  the  scene  of  his  death, 
in  a  print  engraved  by  Bartolozzi  and  Byrne.  Though  weak  both 
in  drawing  and  colour,  some  views  which  he  etched  and  aquatinted 
of  the  places  he  went  to  are  said  to  have  been  very  popular.  He  was 
made  a  Royal  Academician  but  two  years  before  his  death. 

Julius  Ccesar  Ibbetson  accompanied  Colonel  Cathcart's  embassy  to 
China  in  1788  as  draftsman,  but  the  ambassador  dying  on  the  voyage 
the  vessel  returned. 

1  Dittionary  of  Artists, 


CH.  v      TRAVELLING    ARTISTS  ;   AND   ALEXANDER   COZENS          53 

There  were  other  draftsmen  who  had  been  similarly  employed. 
Among  them  is  mentioned  one  Francis  Smith,  who  died  in  or  about 
1779,  having  made  drawings  in  the  East,  in  company  with  Lord 
Baltimore.  In  succeeding  generations,  fresh  groups  of  artists  were 
engaged  in  the  same  branch  of  the  profession.  Some  of  these  will 
demand  more  special  notice  in  the  sequel  ;  and  although  it  belongs 
to  a  rather  later  period,  the  name  of  William  Alexander  (born  1767, 
died  1816),  who  accompanied  Lord  Macartney  to  China  in  1792  as 
draftsman,  and  illustrated  Sir  George  Staunton's  account  of  that 
embassy,  deserves  special  mention  here.  His  figures  were  spirited, 
and  his  topographic  and  architectural  subjects  were  drawn  with 
refined  taste.1 

These  draftsmen  are  in  fact  the  artistic  ancestry  of  the  special 
correspondents  of  illustrated  journals  of  our  own  day.  Of  them  may 
be  repeated  what  has  been  already  said  of  the  earlier  topographers, 
that  they  are  better  entitled  to  the  name  of '  historical  painters  '  than 
are  those  (Academic,  Pre-Raphaelite,  or  whatever  else  they  may  be) 
who  assume  it  on  the  strength  of  sitting  in  a  studio  and  copying  paid 
models,  dressed  up  to  represent  persons  who  may  never  even  have 
existed  at  all ;  and  events  which,  after  all  the  artist's  pains  in  his 
endeavour  to  be  realistic,  had  (we  may  be  sure)  a  different  aspect 
when  they  actually  occurred.  '  Les  peintres  soi-disant  de  1'histoire  ne 
peignent  pas  mieux  1'histoire  que  la  fable.' 2 

Whether,  as  a  rule,  the  artists  who  thus  travelled  in  foreign 
countries,  or  accompanied  expeditions  to  remote  parts  of  the  earth, 
did  much  to  develop  the  art  of  water-colour  painting,  may  be  matter 
of  doubt.  In  their  persons,  however,  the  professional  importance 
of  their  class  of  draftsmen  was  raised  ;  and  by  the  nature  of  the 
subjects,  their  works  contributed  to  enlarge  the  mind,  as  they  gave  to 
the  landscape  painter  a  wider  field  of  observation.  But  it  must  be 
remembered  that  the  public  before  whom  such  works  have  to  be  laid 
(the  '  gentlemen  who  stay  at  home  at  ease,'  while  tliey  are  braving 
'  the  danger  of  the  seas ')  are  in  no  position  to  judge  of  the  truth  of 
representation,  or  of  the  painter's  appreciative  taste.  That  power  of 
his,  upon  the  captivating  strength  whereof  the  value  of  his  art  so  much 
depends— the  power  to  charm  the  spectator  by  enabling  him  again  to 
realize  a  scene  by  which  he  has  himself  been  impressed — is  of  no  avail  in 

1  See  account  of  his  life  and  works  in  Redgrave's  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 
•  Eugene  Delacroix  in  Rn'iie  de  Paris,  1829. 


54  WATER-COLOUR   ART   IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY       BK.  I 

such  a  case.  We  look  with  a  curiosity  inspired  by  the  strangeness  of 
the  prospect  or  its  incidents,  and  think  less  of  the  artistic  merit  of  the 
drawing  itself  than  we  do  when  the  scene  is  of  a  more  familiar  kind. 
Our  interest  resembles  that  of  the  antiquaries  in  the  earlier  days,  who 
knew  nothing  of  landscape  as  a  fine  art,  and  made  no  demand  for 
pictorial  quality.  With  home  scenery  the  case  is  different,  and  it  has 
accordingly  been  to  the  study  of  nature  in  the  British  Isles  that  we 
chiefly,  or  almost  entirely,  owe  our  national  development  of  landscape, 
and  with  it  of  water-colour  painting. 

There  have,  however,  as  we  shall  now  see,  been  some  notable 
exceptions  to   the   rule.     Among  the   landscape   draftsmen  of  this 
time  who  were    indebted   to  the    patronage  of  wealthy  persons    for 
opportunities  of  study  in  foreign  parts,  there  were  two,  nearly  of  the 
same  age,  in  whose  works  are  recognizable  a  distinct   advance  upon 
the  art  of  their  contemporaries,  and  who,  each  in  his  own  different 
way,  exercised  an  important  influence  upon  that  of  their  immediate 
successors.     These  were  John  Robert  Cozens,   born    in    1752  ;    and 
the  John  Smith  mentioned  above  as  one  of  the  draftsmen  employed 
for  some  of  the  earlier  plates  in  Middiman's  views.     Both  went  to 
Italy  as   landscape    draftsmen,  but  Cozens's    visits    to  that    country 
ended  some   years   before  Smith's   began.     The  name  of  '  Italian ' 
Smith  is  associated  chiefly  with  the  technical  improvement  of  water- 
colour  art.   That  of  Cozens  is  imperishably  connected  with  its  advance 
towards  a  higher  aim  and  the  development  of  its  aesthetic  quality. 
John  Robert  Cozens,  more  familiarly  known  as  'John  Cozens'  simply, 
came  of  artistic  parentage  on  both  sides.     Little  is  known  directly  of 
his  youth  ;  but  he  must  have  lived  in'  an  atmosphere  of  art,  such  as  it 
was.     His  father,  Alexander  Cozens,  was  a  fashionable  teacher  of 
drawing,  who  had  among  his  pupils  the  Prince  of  Wales  and  other 
persons   of  rank,  was   professor  of  the   art   at  Eton    College  from 
1763  to  1768,  and  for  a  time  resided  at  Bath,  where  he  adopted  a 
system   of  instruction  which   gained   him   great   popularity   among 
amateurs. 

A  rumour,ormore  than  a  rumour,of  Imperial  descent,  may  have  shed 
a  halo  of  interest  in  society  over  the  person  of  ALEXANDER  COZENS. 
By  birth  a  Russian,  he  is  said  to  have  been  a  natural  son  of  Peter  the 
Great  by  an  English  woman  whom  he  took  from  Deptford.  As  Peter 
was  working  in  the  dockyard  there  in  1697,  it  has  been  conjectured '  that 

1   See  the  Burlington  Fine  Arts  Club  Catalogue  of  Exhibition  of  Water-Colour  Drawings, 


CH.  v      TRAVELLING   ARTISTS;   AND    ALEXANDER   COZENS  55 

Alexander  Cozens  was  born  about  1698,  a  date  scarcely,  however,  in 
accordance  with  those  assigned  to  the  active  period  of  his  life  and  the 
publication  of  his  writings.  They  seem  to  imply  a  later  time  of  birth: 
We  are  told,  moreover,1  that  the  Czar  had,  by  the  same  mother,  another 
son,  who  became  a  general  in  the  Russian  service.  Alexander  may 
have  been  a  younger  brother.  The  Emperor  sent  him  to  Italy  to 
study  painting,  whence  he  came  from  Rome  to  England,  in  1746, 
the  year  in  which  Tom  Sandby  sketched  the  field  of  Culloden,  while 
Paul  was  drawing  fortifications  at  the  Tower. 

Here  Cozens  married  a  wife,  who,  in  1752,  gave  birth  to  his  more 
eminent  son.  Biographers'  accounts  of  Mrs.  Cozens  and  her  family  are 
in  some  confusion.  Edwards  2  calls  her  a  sister  of  Robert  Edge  Pine, 
portrait  and  history  painter ;  but  Redgrave3  says  she  was  his  daughter. 
As,  according  to  the  last-named  authority,  this  Robert  Edge  Pine  was 
only  ten  years  old  at  the  date  of  John  Cozens's  birth,  this  could 
scarcely  be  ;  and  we  are  left  to  suppose  that  she  was  the  sister.  If 
so,  she  must  have  been  another  and  an  older  child  of  John  Pine, 
engraver,  who,  according  to  the  same  writer,  was  Hogarth's  convivial 
friend  '  Friar  Pine,'  the  original  of  the  fat  ecclesiastic  in  the  great 
humourist's  picture  of 'Calais  Gate.'  But  even  here  historians  differ. 
In  the  roll  of  British  artists  there  are  Pines  and  Pynes,  between  whom 
it  is  not  easy  to  make  due  distinction.  One  of  a  later  date,  the  W. 
H.  Pyne  before  quoted,  whom  we  shall  have  presently  to  deal  with  as 
one  of  the  immediate  founders  of  the  Water-Colour  Society,  tells  us  4 
that  it  was  Robert  Edge  Pine  himself  who  was  so  painted  by  Hogarth 
and  dubbed  '  Friar '  by  his  jolly  companions.  The  probability  is  that 
the  engraver  sat  to  Hogarth  ;  and  that  it  was  his  daughter,  the 
painter's  sister,  who  became  the  drawing-master's  wife. 

However  that  may  be,  Alexander  Cozens  taught  drawing  to  the 
fashionable  circles  at  Bath  in  the  gay  old  times  when  there  were 
'  congregated  there  from  all  quarters  of  the  globe  not  only  the  invalid  to 
gain  health  from  the  thermal  springs,  but  the  idle,  the  dissipated,  and 
also  the  lovers  of  the  arts.' 5 

It  was  in  1771  that  Sheridan,  then  a  young  man  of  twenty,  went 
with  his  father's  family  to  reside  at  Bath.  In  the  same  year  the  new 
Assembly  Rooms  were  opened  ;  and  Smollett  published  Humphrey 

1  Leslie's  Handbook  for  Young  Painters.  2  Anecdotes. 

*  Dictionary  of  the  English  School.  4   Wine  and  Walnuts,  i.  116  ». 

5  Life  of  Sheridan,  prefixed  to  Bohn's  edition  of  his  Dramatic  Works. 


56  WATER-COLOUR   ART    IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY       nK.  I 

Clinker^  In  the  same  year  also  Robert  Edge  Pine  came  to  Bath  to 
paint  portraits,  having  left  London  in  a  fit  of  ill  temper  against  the 
President  of  the  Spring  Gardens  Society  of  Artists.  He  practised  at 
Bath  till  1779,  and  we  may  fairly  conjecture  that  it  was  during  the 
same  period  that  his  brother-in-law  was  engaged  in  giving  lessons  to 
the  Lydia  Languishes  and  Julias  of  the  day  in  the  new  and  fascinating 
amusement  of  landscape  composition. 

Alexander  Cozens  has  been  styled  (as  have  several  other  artists) 
the  '  father '  of  our  water-colour  school.  It  would  be  more  accurate  to 
call  him  the  father  of  its  schoolmasters.  He  seems  to  have  been  the 
first  who  professed  to  conduct  amateurs  along  a  royal  road  to  the 
production  of  pretty  pictures,  without  imposing  upon-  them  the  hard 
study  and  careful  observation  of  nature  necessary  to  a  thorough 
practitioner  in  art.  Dayes,  in  his  Professional  Sketches,  calls  him 
'  Blotmaster-general  to  the  town.'  Certainly,  his  method  of  teaching 
was  peculiar,  and  savoured  somewhat  of  mechanical  trick.  Yet  it 
may  be  fairly  contended  that  such  a  method  has  more  within  it  of  the 
elements  of  thoughtful  art,  than  the  mere  setting  up  before  a  student 
of  objects  to  copy.  Cozens's  appears  to  have  been  suggested  by  some 
observations  of  Leonardo  da  Vinci's,  on  a  saying  attributed  to 
Botticelli,  that  a  palette  full  of  colours  being  thrown  against  a  wall 
would  leave  a  stain  behind  it  properly  enough  representing  a  land- 
scape. '  It  is  true  indeed,'  says  Leonardo,  '  that  by  the  help  of  a 
strong  fancy  one  may  spy  heads,  battles,  rocks,  seas,  clouds,  woods, 
&c.,  in  a  wall  so  smeared  ;  it  being  here  as  in  the  ringing  of  bells. 
where  everybody  is  at  liberty  to  make  them  say  what  he  pleases  ;  but 
then,  though  a  fortuitous  mixture  of  colours  may  start  a  hint,  or  give 
rise  to  a  new  invention,  yet  it  will  not  furnish  the  least  assistance 
towards  the  execution  or  finishing  anything  it  has  occasioned.' 
Having  thus  guarded  himself  against  the  charge  of  advocating  such 
a  method  of  inspiration  as  a  substitute  for  invention,  the  great  Floren- 
tine himself  recommends  a  very  similar  course  in  the  following 
words : — 

'  Among  other  things  I  shall  not  scruple  to  deliver  a  new  method 
of  assisting  the  invention,  which,  though  trifling  in  appearance,  may 
yet  be  of  considerable  service  in  opening  the  mind  and  putting  it 

1  Anstey's  New  Bath  Guide,  upon  which  Smollett's  account  of  Bath  is  greatly  founded, 
was  published  in  1766.  Sheridan's  Rivals  was  first  acted  in  1775,  and  Miss  Burney's 
Evelina  came  out  in  1778. 


en.  v      TRAVELLING   ARTISTS  ;   AND    ALEXANDER    COZENS  57 

upon  the  scent  of  new  thoughts  ;  and  'tis  this.  If  you  look  at  some 
old  wall  covered  with  dirt,  or  the  odd  appearance  of  some  streaked 
stones,  you  may  discover  several  things  like  landscapes,  battles,  clouds, 
uncommon  attitudes,  humourous  faces,  draperies,  &c.  Out  of  this 
confused  mass  of  objects  the  mind  will  be  furnished  with  abundance 
of  designs  and  subjects  perfectly  new.' 

Cozcns's  process,  according  to  Edwards,1  was  '  to  dash  out  upon 
several  pieces  of  paper  a  number  of  accidental  large  blots  and  loose 
flourishes,  from  which  he  selected  forms,  and  sometimes  produced 
very  grand  ideas  ;  but,'  adds  the  same  writer,  'they  were  in  general  too 
indefinite  in  their  execution  and  unpleasing  in  their  colour,  for  being 
wrought  in  dark  brown  or  bister  they  appeared  sombre  and  heavy  in 
the  extreme,  similar  in  their  effect  to  the  appearance  of  nature  when 
viewed  through  a  dark-coloured  lens.'  Cozens  demonstrated  this 
process  in  a  small  published  tract,  entitled  A  New  Method  of  Draw- 
ing Original  Landscapes.  It  is  obvious  that  the  value  of  such  a 
method  lies  in  its  application.  The  artistic  eye  looks  upon  all  things 
with  reference  to  their  combinations  and  proportions  of  form,  quantity 
and  colour,  and  these  it  recognizes  in  an  old  wall  as  well  as  in  a  land- 
scape or  other  scene.  The  inartistic  eye  sees  them  in  neither,  and 
cannot  perceive  the  analogy,  or  just  applicability  of  the  one  to  the 
other.  To  the  mind  of  Alexander  Cozens  his  method  may  have  been 
admirably  suggestive  of  effects  of  light  ;  as  one  educated  under  more 
modern  influences  will  see  in  a  card  smoked  over  a  candle  the  most 
delicate  gradations  of  a  Turneresque  chiaroscuro. 

Pyne,  commenting,  in  his  outspoken  way,  upon  certain  tricky 
methods  of  teaching,  which  in  his  own  later  time  had  exercised  a 
baneful  influence  on  water-colour  art,  denounces,  in  unmeasured  terms, 
this  haphazard  method  of  composing  landscapes. .  In  the  Rise  and 
Progress  of  Water-Colour  Painting  in  England,  the  elder  Cozens 
claims  that  writer's  notice,  only  for  having,  at  Bath, '  too  successfully 
practised  upon  the  credulity  of  the  amateurs  of  style,  who  frequented 
that  fashionable  resort  of  wealthy  listlessness.  Will  it,'  he  asks,  'be 
believed  hereafter  that  a  professor  of  painting  should  undertake  to 
splash  the  surface  of  a  china  plate  with  yellow,  red,  blue,  and  black, 
and  taking  impressions  from  the  promiscuous  mass,  on  prepared 
paper,  affect  to  teach  his  disciples  and  those  persons  of  education 
and  elegant  minds  to  work  them  into  landscape  compositions  ?  This, 

1  Anecdotes  of  Painting,  119. 


58  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY       BK.  I 

however,  he  attempted,  and  the  charlatanery  succeeded,  for  he  had  a 
host  of  scholars  for  several  seasons,  who  rewarded  him  most  munifi 
cently  for  his  wonderful  discovery  ! ' ' 

If  the  first  parentage  of  our  water-colour  school  be  too  high  an 
honour  to  attribute  to  Alexander  Cozens,  it  is  not  necessary  thus  to 
cast  upon  him  the  imputation  of  degrading  its  practice.  He,  like 
the  draftsmen  who  preceded  him,  was  in  a  great  degree  a  product  of 
his  time.  His  teaching  was  supplied  in  answer  to  a  rising  demand 
which  he  had  not  been  the  first  to  create.  The  kind  of  practical 
dilettantism  which  the  elder  Cozens  employed  his  talent  in  fostering, 
was  to  exercise  in  the  coming  age  a  strong  influence  on  the  develop- 
ment and  application  of  water-colour  art. 

If,  however,  the  love  of  landscape-sketching,  which  has  long  dis- 
tinguished English  amateurs,  and  in  our  own  day  remains  as  prevalent 
as  ever,  is  to  be  traced  to  the  influence  of  one  individual,  that  one  is 
more  probably  Gainsborough.  He  had  resided  at  Bath  for  fourteen 
years,  at  the  end  of  which  period  he  went  to  settle  in  London,  in 
1774,  at  about  the  time  when  the  career  of  Cozens  began  at  the 
former  fashionable  resort.  Although  Gainsborough's  large  landscapes 
had  but  a  poor  sale  in  London,  his  rural  scraps  and  picturesque  frag- 
ments, executed  slightly,  but  with  telling  effect,  and  apparent  ease, 
presented  models  which  fired  the  amateur  with  a  natural  desire  to 
imitate,  and  a  hope  of  catching  their  attractive  manner.  '  That 
inimitable  painter,'  says  Pyne,  '  unwittingly  set  the  fashionable  world 
agog  after  style  ;  but  he  did  not  enter  the  lists  as  a  teacher,  nor 
would  he  have  allowed  youth  who  had  advised  with  him  upon 
art  to  waste  their  time  in  attempting  to  learn  what  no  one  could 
teach.  The  copyists,  or  rather  dabblers  in  his  new  style,  were  full- 
grown  amateurs,  polite  idlers  at  Bath,  who  vainly  fancied,  forsooth, 
because  this  rare  genius  could,  by  a  sort  of  graphic  magic,  dash  o?f 
romantic  scraps  of  landscape,  rural  hovels,  wild  heaths,  and  pictu- 
resque groups  of  rustics,  that  they  had  but  to  procure  his  brown  or 
blue  paper,  and  his  brushes  and  pigments,  and  do  the  like.  .  .  .  The 
Gainsborough  mania,'  adds  Pyne,  'was  long  the  rage;  and  there  are 
yet '  (he  is  writing  in  December  1823)  '  some  antique  beaux  and  belles 
of  haut  ton,  who  recollect  their  many  friends  who,  with  themselves, 
were  stricken  with  this  sketching  phrenzy,  and  smile  at  Bath  and  its 
vanities,  as  they  talk  of  the  days  that  are  gone.'2 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \.  162.  *  Ibid. 


CH.  v      TRAVELLING  ARTISTS;  AND  ALEXANDER  COZENS          59 

It  was  in  the  field  so  well  prepared  for  him  by  Gainsborough  that 
Alexander  Cozens  trod  his  path  of  successful  tuition.  Leslie  says  that 
he  taught  the  figure  as  well  as  landscape.  He  was  also  a  theoretical 
writer  on  art,  and  besides  the  tract  above  mentioned,  published  the 
following  works  :  Treatise  on  Perspective,  and  Rules  for  Shading  by 
Invention,  1765;  The  various  Species  of  Composition  in  Nature; 
'  with  observations,  &c.,'  containing  sixteen  subjects  in  four  plates  ; 
The  Shape,  Skeleton,  and  Foliage  of  Thirty-two  Species  of  Trees, 
'for  the  use  of  Painting  and  Drawing,'  1771  (another  edition,  1786)  ; 
and  The  Principles  of  Beauty,  relative  to  the  Human  Head,  folio, 
1778.  This  last  is  a  curious  essay,  being  an  attempt  to  build  up 
expressions  in  female  profiles,  by  piecing  together  sets  of  features, 
selected  according  to  prescribed  receipts  from  a  store  of  single  exam- 
ples previously  assorted  and  indexed.  It  mainly  consists  of  a  series 
of  nineteen  outline  plates  engraved  in  life-size  by  F.  Bartolozzi ;  two 
being  devoted  to  the  separate  eyes,  noses,  &c.,  and  seventeen  to  their 
combinations  in  faces  representing  distinct  types  of  beauty,  such  as 
the  Majestic,  the  Sensible,  the  Tender,  the  Artful,  &c.  &c.  Transparent 
removable  headdresses  are  added,  designed  to  serve  up  each  face  in 
varied  fashion.  The  titles  and  explanatory  text  are  given  in  English 
and  French.  Nearly  all  the  plates  are  dated  April  1777.  The  book 
must  have  been  talked  of  for  more  than  one  season,  as  Banks  the 
sculptor  exhibited,  at  the  Royal  Academy  in  1783,  a  '  Head — on 
Cozens's  principles.' 

Alexander  Cozens  does  not  appear  to  have  resided  entirely  at 
Bath.  His  address,  given  in  the  Royal  Academy  Catalogue  for  1772, 
is  '  Leicester  Street,  Leicester  Fields  ; '  and  there  he  is  said  to  have 
died,  in  April  1786. 


60  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY       BK.  I 


CHAPTER   VI 
JOHN   COZENS  AND  JOHN   SMITH 

John  Cozens — Teaches  by  example— Early  drawings— His  'Hannibal' — Influence  on  Turner 
— Visit  to  Italy  with  Payne  Knight — Buys  his  father's  lost  sketches — Second  visit  with 
Beckford— Loss  of  reason — Kindness  of  Sir  G.  Beaumont  and  Dr.  Monro— Date  of 
death —Character  of  his  art — '  Warwick'  Smith — His  views  of  Italy — New  process  of 
painting— Engraved  works. 

THE  more  important  and  lasting,  though  less  direct,  influence  of  this 
drawing-master's  greater  son,  JOHN  COZENS,  upon  landscape  art,  was 
of  an  altogether  different  nature  from  his.  The  younger  Cozens 
appears  to  have  been  abroad  when  his  parent  was  giving  lessons  in 
Bath,  and  is  not  known  to  have  been  himself  engaged  in  tuition.  He 
taught  by  example,  not  by  precept.  The  works  which  he  left  behind 
him  bespeak  his  mind  as  an  artist,  and  simple  and  elementary  as  they 
are  in  a  technical  point  of  view,  have  never  failed  to  impress  the  true 
connoisseur  with  a  sense  of  their  poetic  feeling. 

Little  is  known  of  the  facts  of  his  life,  except  what  is  sufficiently 
apparent  in  his  drawings,  that  he  received  his  inspiration  of  natural 
beauty  in  the  tender  repose  of  Italian  air.  Leslie  mentions  a  very 
small  pen-drawing  of  three  figures  inscribed  with  the  words,  '  Done  by 
J.  Cozens  1761,  when  nine  years  old.'  He  must,  if  this  statement  be 
true,  have  been  fifteen  when  he  exhibited  '  a  drawing  of  a  landscape ' 
at  Spring  Gardens  in  1767.  One  or  more  landscapes,  of  which  the 
particular  subjects  are  not  mentioned,  are  attributed  to  him  in  the 
catalogues  there  every  year  between  1767  and  1771.  Then  comes  an 
interval ;  after  which,  when  he  was  twenty-five,  a  picture  by  him,  said 
to  have  been  in  oil,  appeared  at  the  Royal  Academy  Exhibition  of 
1776,  of  'A  landscape  with  Hannible  in  his  March  over  the  Alps, 
showing  to  his  army  the  fertile  plains  of  Italy.'  It  might  now  have 
a  second  title  referring  to  the  history  of  peaceful  art,  for  in  it  the 
artist  was  himself  unfolding  to  his  professional  brethren  the  charms 
of  Italian  landscape.  The  great  Turner,  to  whom,  above  all  other 


CH.  vi  JOHN    COZENS   AND   JOHN    SMITH  61 

painters,  was  transmitted  the  inspiration  of  Cozens,  is  said  to  have 
spoken  of  this  work  as  one  '  from  which  he  learned  more  than  from 
anything  he  had  then  '  seen.' 

The  picture  must  have  been  painted  during  his  first  visit  to  Italy, 
which  took  place  in  the  same  year,  1776,  in  company  with  R.  Payne 
Knight.  A  set  of  fifty-seven  grey  drawings,  formerly  in  the  Town  ley 
collection,  afterwards  in  that  of  the  late  Hon.  Rowland  Allanson 
Winn,2  and  now  more  or  less  dispersed,  which  were  a  result  of  this 
visit,  evince  the  artist's  delicate  perception  of  atmospheric  effect,  his 
sense  of  beauty,  and  masterly  grasp  of  a  subject,  with  the  simplest 
means  of  expression. 

A  very  few  of  these  sketches  are  from  the  North  of  Italy.  And 
further  evidence  exists  that  Cozens  was  in  Florence  in  1776.  For 
there  are  at  the  British  Museum  a  series  of  views,  in  Rome,  and 
elsewhere  in  Italy,  by  the  elder  Cozens,  accompanied  by  the  fol- 
lowing (unsigned)  memorandum  :  '  Alexander  Cozens,  in  London, 
Author  of  these  Drawings,  lost  them  and  many  more  in  Germany, 
by  their  dropping  from  his  Saddle  when  he  was  riding  on  his  way 
from  Rome  to  England,  in  the  year  1746.  John  Cozens  his  son 
being  at  Florence  in  the  year  1776,  purchased  them.  When  he 
arrived  at  London  in  the  year  1779  he  delivered  the  drawings  to  his 
Father.' 3 

Edwards  tells  us  that  Cozens  visited  'Italy  twice.  His  second 
journey  thither  may  have  been  due  to  his  father's  position  at  Bath. 
It  was  made  in  company  with,  and  under  patronage  of,  the  accom- 
plished and  eccentric  millionnaire  William  Beckford,  author  of  Vatliek, 
and  owner  and  rebuilder  of  Fonthill  Abbey.  It  is  not  to  be  inferred 
that  Beckford  discovered  this  artist's  genius,  or  even  aided  in  bringing 

1  So  says  Leslie  in  his  Life  of  Constable.     The  word  '  then  '  must  refer  to  the  time  when 
Turner  saw  the  work,  and  is  therefore  indefinite.     When  the  picture  was  exhibited,  Turner 
could  not  have  seen  much  in  the  way  of  art.     He  was  one  year  old. 

2  When  the  volume  containing  them  came  into  Mr.  Winn's  possession,  it  was  inscribed 
'  Views  in  Swisserland,  a  present  from  Mr.  R.  P.  Knight,  and  taken  by  the  late  Mr.  Cozens 
under  his  inspection  during  a  Tour  in  Swisserland  in  1776.'     Dr.   Percy,  however,  makes 
the  following  note  in  his  catalogue,  respecting  this  volume  :   '  Bought  at  R.  P.  Knight's  sale 
by  Molteno,  who  sold  them  to  Rowland  Winn,  Esq.,  the  present  possessor,  1870.' 

3  One  of  these  drawings  is  signed  '  A.  C.  Roma  1746.'    They  are  mostly  in  grey,  executed 
with  pen  and  brush,  rather  niggled  in  the  pen-work,  with  some  attempt  at  light  and  shade 
effect,  and,  generally,  the  conventional  dark  foreground.     Some  drawings  with  the  pen  only 
are  in  the  manner  of  line  engravings.     One  view  has  some  crude  colour  with  bright  blue- 
greens.     Leslie  sees  in  them  '  much  of  elegance  and  feeling  of  the  beautiful  forms  of  nature. ' 
( Handbook  for  Young  Painters. ) 


62  WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY       BK.  i 

it  to  maturity,  though  he  may  have  contributed  to  the  sentiment  of 
his  art.  When  Cozens  painted  his  '  Hannibal,'  the  late  alderman's 
son  was  a  lively  lad  of  seventeen  ;  and  his  patronage  of  art,  though 
not  inconsistent  with  the  appreciation  of  poetic  style  in  painting,  which 
the  imagination  he  afterwards  displayed  would  lead  one  to  expect, 
was  at  this  time  chiefly  of  a  negative  character.  He  was  exercising 
his  literary  talent  upon  a  ludicrous  burlesque  history  of  the  Dutch 
painters,  and  in  mystifying  his  mother's  housekeeper,  and  the 
strangers  who  came  to  see  the  treasures  of  the  Fonthill  gallery,  by 
furnishing  her  with  wondrous  accounts  of  the  pictures  there,  painted 
by  the  distinguished  old  masters,  Sucrewasser  of  Vienna,  Watersouchy 
of  Amsterdam,  and  Og  of  Basan.  It  was  not  until  the  spring  of 
1782  that  young  Beckford,  then  of  age,  and  master  of  his  immense 
fortune,  set  off  for  his  second  tour  on  the  Continent,  taking  with 
him  a  considerable  retinue — his  old  tutor,  a  doctor,  a  musician,  and 
Cozens,  as  the  professional  artist,  without  whom  the  suite  of  a 
wealthy  dilettante  on  his  travels  was  now  scarcely  to  be  regarded  as 
complete. 

Since  writing  his  Vies  de  Peintres  Flainands,  the  young  Croesus 
had  seen  more  of  the  world.  He  had  spent  a  year  and  a  half  at 
Geneva,  had  travelled  about  in  England,  and,  early  in  1780,  had  set 
out  with  his  tutor,  Dr.  Lettice,  on  what  was  called  '  the  grand  tour.1 
As  he  traversed  the  Low  Countries,  Germany,  and  Italy,  his  early 
attachment  to  nature  had  become  more  and  more  developed,1  and 
the  romantic  scenes  through  which  he  passed  had  impressed  them- 
selves upon  him  in  a  manner  which  his  subsequent  descriptions  of 
them  show  to  have  been  well  in  accord  with  the  sentiment  embodied 
in  the  works  of  Cozens.  Here  is  a  verbal  picture  of  a  scene  in  the 
Tyrol  which  might  either  have  suggested,  or  been  suggested  by,  one 
of  that  painter's  drawings  :  '  Big  drops  hung  on  every  spray,  and 
glittered  on  the  leaves,  partially  gilt  by  the  rays  of  the  declining  sun, 
whose  mellow  hues  softened  the  rugged  summits,  and  diffused  a 
repose,  a  divine  calm,  over  this  deep  retirement,  which  inclined  me 
to  imagine  it  the  extremity  of  the  earth  -  the  portal  of  some  other 
region  of  existence — some  happy  world  beyond  the  dark  groves  o; 
pine,  the  caves  and  awful  mountains,  where  the  river  takes  its 
source ! '  * 

It  was  through  this  Tyrol  country  that  the  party  in  three  carriages, 

1  Memoirs  of  Bcckford,  2  vols.  8vo,  1859  :    vol.  i.  p.  168.  2  Ibid.  169,  quoted. 


CH.  vi  JOHN    COZENS   AND   JOHN    SMITH  63 

with  led  horses  and  outriders,  entered  Italy.  On  the  way  Beckford 
'  ran  on  foot  into  the  woods,  admiring  the  delicate  foliage  on  all 
sides,  while  the  artist  Cozens  drew  the  huts  that  were  scattered 
about  the  landscape.' '  They  drove  rapidly  to  Venice,  were  ten  days 
at  Padua,  and  then  went  to  Rome.  Here  again  the  sombre  scenes  in 
which  he  sought  relief  from  pageantry  that  he  little  cared  for,  are  just 
what  would  have  taken  captive  the  heart  of  Cozens.  They  reached 
Naples  in  July,  and  returned  to  England  in  the  latter  part  of  the  year. 
In  1804,  the  year  of  the  founding  of  our  Society,  ninety-four  of  the 
Roman  drawings  made  for  Beckford  by  Cozens  were  sold  at  Christie's 
for  5O4/.,  one  of  them  alone  fetching,  it  is  said,  fifty  guineas.  A  view 
of  Rome  (i8i  x  29  in.)  by  him  has  in  recent  times  been  twice 
sold  at  Christie's  (1875,  1880)  for  84/.2 

Cozens's  end  was  a  very  sad  one.  In  1794  he  lost  his  reason. 
Leslie  *  considers  that  there  is  evidence  of  a  failing  mind  in  some  of 
his  works,  wherein  '  that  pensive  sadness  which  forms  the  charm  of 
his  evening  scenes  sinks  into  cheerless  melancholy.'  The  following 
note  is  made  by  Dr.  Percy  in  his  manuscript  catalogue,  now  at  the 
British  Museum,  on  Cozens's  drawings  :  '  Did  Cozens  in  his  last 
years,  owing  to  increasing  melancholy,  use  colour  less  and  less?  This, 
so  far  as  I  know  at  present,  seems  to  me  probable.  It  is  a  point  for 
special  inquiry. — J.  P.  June  19,  1881.' 

In  the  days  of  his  mental  affliction,  poor  Cozens  was  befriended  by 
two  generous  patrons  of  art ;  namely,  Sir  George  Beaumont,  and  one 
whose  name  is  more  conspicuous  in  the  history  of  our  water-colour 
school,  good  Dr.  Thomas  Monro.  What  the  latter  did  for  the  art 
itself  will  shortly  be  related.  It  was  as  a  physician,  skilled  in  like  cases, 
that  he  was  able  to  perform  his  kind  service  to  this  afflicted  artist. 
Edwards  relates  that,  receiving  little  or  no  gratuity,  he  treated  him 
with  the  greatest  care  and  tenderness  till  his  death,  which  is  said  to 
have  been  in  1799.* 

Cozens's  works  belong,  technically  speaking,  to  the  old  class  of 
'stained  drawings.'  Depending,  however,  for  their  effect,  more  on 

1  Memoirs  of  Beckford,  \.  207. 

*  Redford's  Art  Sales.     The  total  amount  is  elsewhere  stated  at  SID/. 

1  Handbook  of  Painters. 

1  This  date  is  adopted  by  Bryan  and  Redgrave.  Dayes  and  Constable  make  it  three 
years  earlier;  and  a  doubt  is  thrown  on  both  statements  by  the  existence  of  a  drawing  lately 
in  the  collection  of  Dr.  Percy,  of  Castel  Gandolfo,  pronounced  by  connoisseurs  to  be  the 
work  of  Cozens,  but  executed  on  paper  bearing  the  date  1801. 


64  WATER-COLOUR   ART    IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY       UK.  I 

masses  and  gradation  of  light  and  shade  than  on  line  and  form,  they 
are  more  aptly  described  by  Edwards  as  '  tinted  chiaroscuro.'  The 
brush  did  much  more  to  them  than  the  pen.  The  Messrs.  Redgrave, 
indeed  attribute  to  him  the  first  move  in  the  right  direction  in  the 
use  of  his  pigments  for  the  suggestion  of  true  colour  ;  and  further,  an 
acquaintance  with  '  the  use  of  gentle  washings,  and  abrasion  of  the 
surface  to  give  atmosphere  and  distance,  or  to  indicate  sun  rays 
through  intercepting  clouds,'  as  well  as  a  mastership  of  light  and 
shade,  and  the  use  of  accident'  in  painting.1 

The  highest  tribute  of  admiration  to  the  genius  of  Cozens  has  been 
paid  by  the  landscape  painter  John  Constable,  and  by  that  artist's 
biographer,  Leslie.  The  former,  in  hyperbole,  once  went  so  far  as  to 
call  him  '  the  greatest  genius  that  ever  touched  landscape.'  He  speaks 
of  his  drawings  as  '  keeping  him  cheerful.'  '  Cozens,'  says  he,  '  is  all 
poetry.'  '  But,'  adds  Leslie,  '  it  is  poetry  that  wins  gently  and 
imperceptibly.  So  modest  and  unobtrusive  are  the  beauties  of  his 
drawings,  that  you  might  pass  them  without  a  notice  ;  for  the  painter 
himself  never  says,  "  Look  at  this  or  that ; "  he  trusts  implicitly  to  your 
own  taste  and  feeling,  and  his  works  are  full  of  half-concealed  beauties 
such  as  Nature  herself  shows  but  coyly,  and  these  are  often  the 
most  fleeting  appearances  of  light.  Not  that  his  style  is  without 
emphasis,  for  then  it  would  be  insipid,  which  it  never  is,  nor  ever  in 
the  least  commonplace.  This  exquisite  artist  had  an  eye  equally 
adapted  to  the  grandeur,  the  elegance,  and  the  simplicity  of 
Nature  ;  but  he  loved  best,  not  her  most  gorgeous  language,  but 
her  gentlest,  her  most  silent  eloquence.' 2 

Although  Cozens's  drawings  are  for  the  most  part  studies  of  real 
places  and  scenes  in  nature,  their  motive  is  something  very  different 
from  that  of  the  pure  topographer.  There  exist  careful  drawings  of 
architecture  by  him,3  finished  with  precise  elaboration,  which  entitle 
him  to  a  place  in  that  category.  But  the  works  on  which  his  fame 
rests  have  another  origin.  They  are  based  on  the  general  principles 
of  beauty,  not  on  the  attractions  of  local,  or  historic,  or  human 
interest. 

That  the  palette  of  John  Cozens  was  very  limited,  was  a  matter 
of  necessity  in  his  day,  common  to  all  who  practised  in  water-colours. 

1   Century  of  Painters,  \.  379.  2  Leslie's  Handbook  for  Young  Painters. 

1  For  example,  the  view  of  Rome,  with  St.  Puter's  and  the  Castle  of  St.  Angi-lo,  above 
mentioned. 


CH.  VI  JOHN    COZENS   AND   JOHN    SMITH  65 

Although  a  great  improvement  in  the  manufacture  of  colours  had 
already  begun,  Redgrave  tells  us  that  in  about  1783  he  'could  only 
procure  for  his  tinted  works  Indian  red,  lake,  indigo,  yellow  ochre, 
burnt  sienna  with  black — simple  materials  indeed,  and  very  inferior, 
doubtless,  in  their  preparation  to  those  at  the  command  t>f  the  water- 
colour  artists  of  our  day.' '  That  very  grand  and  impressive  effects 
can  be  produced  with  this  restricted  palette  has  been  amply  proved 
in  the  works  of  some  of  our  old  water-colour  painters  ;  the  more  so 
probably  by  the  necessity  imposed  upon  them  of  relying  more  upon 
the  resources  of  a  fine  chiaroscuro  for  their  power  over  the  mind, 
than  a  painter  is  required  to  do  when  he  has  at  command  all  the 
sensuous  attraction  of  gay  and  florid  colour  of  every  variety  of  hue. 
Cozens,  indeed,  did  not  seek  to  attract  by  the  use  of  many  or  bright 
pigments.  It  is,  almost  alone,  by  simple  quantities  and  subtle 
gradations  of  light  and  shade,  that  he  succeeds  in  stirring  the  soul. 
It  is  rather  surprising,  therefore,  that  so  few  of  his  drawings  have 
been  engraved.  There  were  in  his  day  admirable  engravers  in  line, 
as  well  as  scrapers  of  mezzotint,  to  whom  they  might  have  been  ex- 
pected to  prove  attractive.  How  well  they  lend  themselves  to  the 
former  mode  of  reproduction  is  shown  by  a  small  plate  of  the 
Acrocorinthos,  engraved  by  John  Landseer,  in  vol.  iii.  of  Stuart's 
Athens,  ch.  vi.,  PI.  IV.  ;  and  to  the  latter  by  an  example  in  Leslie's 
Handbook  for  Young  Painters.  Cozens  did  not  himself  draw  much, 
if  at  all,  for  the  press.  It  is  probable  that  his  works  were  little  known 
in  his  lifetime,  and  that  the  fine  quality  of  his  art  was  not  much 
appreciated  beyond  a  narrow  circle  of  connoisseurs. 

The  inspiration  which  JOHN  SMITH  derived  from  Italian  scenery 
was  different  in  its  nature  from  that  of  John  Cozens.  He  had  pre- 
pared his  mind  by  studying  the  works  of  Claude  and  Poussin,  and  it 
was  with  a  taste  so  cultivated  that  he  made  his  acquaintance  with 
the  original  scenes.  He  '  attempted  to  unite  depth  and  richness  of 
colour  with  the  clearness  and  aerial  effect  of  Cozens.' 2 

The  two  artists  have  here  been  named  together  chiefly  because 
they  afford  examples  of  the  direct  kind  of  patronage  bestowed  upon 
graphic  art  during  the  last  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century.  Smith 
was  taken  to  Italy  by  the  same  Earl  of  Warwick  who  has  already  been 
mentioned  as  a  patron  of  Paul  Sandby's.  That  nobleman  had  himself 

1   Catalogue  of  Water-Colour  Paintings  in  South  Kensington  Museum,  1877,  p.  17. 
1  MS.  Notes  by  J.  \V.  Papworth. 


66  WATER-COLOUR   ART   IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY         BK.  I 

early  in  life  cultivated  a  natural  taste  for  drawing  and  '  acquired  a 
rapid  and  masterly  style  of  sketching  landscape.  His  fancy  in 
designing  rocks  and  waterfalls,  and  that  species  of  romantic  scenery 
which  abounds  in  the  mountainous  parts  of  Switzerland  and  Italy,' 
says  Pyne,  'was  so  prolific,  that  many  subjects  could  have  been 
selected  from  his  numerous  portfolios  which  might,  in  the  hands  of 
an  able  artist,  have  been  wrought  into  magnificent  pictures.' '  From 
this  companionship  our  artist  acquired  the  nicknames  by  which  he  is 
familiarly  known,  of '  Italian  '  or  '  Warwick  '  Smith. 

He  was  three  years  older  than  Cozens,  but  long  survived  him,  and 
lived  not  only  to  see  the  culminating  period  of  the  water-colour 
school,  but  to  be  far  surpassed  by  later  contemporaries. 

The  technical  change  in  practice  which  he  introduced  did  not 
take  place  until  the  career  of  Cozens  had  virtually  ended.  In 
May  1785,  when  Middiman  published  his  last  plate  after  Smith, 
both  the  above  draftsmen  were  using  the  old  tinted  grey  manner  of 
drawing  from  which  Cozens  never  emerged.  In  the  following  year, 
Smith  began  his  Italian  drawings,  and  in  the  later  of  these,  among  dates 
ranging  from  1786  to  1795,  are  found  a  free  use  of  local  colour  and 
a  partial  abandonment  of  the  preliminary  grey  ground. 

It  is  not  quite  clear  when  he  commenced  the  simple  and  har- 
monious method  of  painting  which  John  Landseer  thus  describes 
in  his  Review  of  Publications  of  Fine  Art,  published  in  1808: — 
'  Mr.  John  Smith,'  he  says,  '  first  discovered  and  taught  the  junior 
artists  the  rationale  of  tempering  their  positive  colours  with  the 
neutral  grey  formed  by  the  mixture  of  red,  blue  and  yellow  :  that  this 
grey,  constituted  of  all  the  primary  colours,  would  harmonize  with 
any,  and  form  a  common  bond  of  concord  with  all,  and  that,  tempered 
with  a  little  more  or  less  of  warm  or  cool  colours,  as  time,  or  climate, 
or  season  might  require,  it  became  the  air  tint,  or  negative  colour 
of  the  atmosphere  which  intervened  between  the  eye  and  the  several 
objects  of  the  landscape.' 

In  part  in  the  British  and  in  part  at  the  South  Kensington  Museum, 
are  a  series  of  drawings,  chiefly  of  Italian  subjects,  by '  Warwick '  Smith, 
presented  to  the  nation  by  Sir  Walter  C.  Trevelyan,  Bart,  which 
exemplify  the  tender  harmony  and  agreeable  warmth  of  Smith's  colour- 
ing, and  contrast  with  the  coldness  of  the  earlier  school. 

John  Smith  was  born  at  Irthington,  Cumberland,  on  the  26th  of 
1  Somerset  Home  Gazette,  i.  30. 


CH.  VI  JOHN    COZENS   AND   JOHN    SMITH  67 

July,  1749,  and  educated  at  St.  Bees.  Some  of  his  early  drawings, 
engraved  in  Middiman's  series,  are  of  his  own  north  country.  He 
published  two  quarto  volumes  in  1792-96  entitled  Select  Views  in 
Italy,  containing  seventy-two  plates  engraved  by  Byrne,  with  topo- 
graphical and  historical  descriptions  in  English  and  French.  A 
Tour  through  Parts  of  Wales,  '  Sonnets,  Odes,  and  other  Poems  by 
W.  Sotheby,  with  engravings  from  drawings  taken  on  the  spot  by 
J.  Smith,"  4to,  1794,  contains  thirteen  plates  (5  x  7^  in.)  in  aquatint 
by  S.  Alken,  printed  on  a  rather  dark-toned  paper.  Some  of  these 
have  a  fine  feeling  almost  suggestive  of  Cozens.  Views  of  the  Lakes 
by  him  were  aquatinted  by  Samuel  Alken,  and  published  by  W.  Clarke 
in  New  Bond  Street  in  1795-  John  Smith  is  named  as  one  of  the 
draftsmen  for  Byrne's  Britannia  Depicta,  the  first  part  of  which  was 
published  in  1806,  but  he  only  contributed  five  views,  viz. :  Two  of 
'  Windsor,'  the  '  Vale  of  Aylesbury,'  and  '  Buckingham '  (the  plates 
dated  i  Jan.  1803,  and  engraved  by  Wm.  Byrne) ;  and  one  of '  Beeston 
Castle'  (24  Jan.  1810,  by  J.  Byrne).  In  'A  Tour  to  Hafod  in 
Cardiganshire,  the  seat  of  Thomas  Johnes,  Esq.,  M.P.,  F.R.S.,  &c. 
folio,  1810,  there  are  some  very  large  coloured  aquatint  plates  by 
Stadler  after  J.  Smith's  drawings  '  taken  many  years  ago.' 


r  2 


68          WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        BK.  i 


CHAPTER    VII 

TEACHERS,   DRAFTSMEN   AND   DILETTANTI 

Drawing  masters  —  Sandby  —  Gresse  —  Laporte  —  Payne  —  His  'style ' — Water-colours  a 
fashionable  amusement — Society  of  Arts  premiums— Artists'  materials  improve — More 
topographical  series— S.  Ireland — Walker's  'Copper  Plate  Magazine' — Dayes — Other 
draftsmen  employed — Patrons  and  collectors — Dr.  Mead — Duke  of  Richmond  —Dr. 
Monro — His  drawing  class. 

WHILE  landscape  draftsmen  were  thus  being  enabled  by  wealthy 
persons  to  extend  their  experience  and  cultivate  their  art  in  foreign 
climes,  those  who  stayed  at  home  were  deriving  a  different  kind  of 
encouragement  from  the  same  class  of  benefactors.  The  admiration 
which  had  been  attracted  by  the  water-colour  artists  was  testified 
by  the  sincerest  kind  of  flattery,  that  of  imitation.  An  emulative 
influence  prevailed  in  London  circles  like  that  with  which  Gains- 
borough's rural  sketches  had  erst  inspired  the  amateurs  of  Bath  ; 
and,  as  Alexander  Cozens  had  prospered  there,  so  a  race  of  teachers 
sprang  up  who  pursued  their  calling  in  the  metropolis. 

Most  prosperous  and  influential  among  the  drawing-masters  of 
the  day  was  our  old  acquaintance  Paul  Sandby,  during  probably  a 
great  part  of  his  long  life.  The  youthful  drawings  made  by  our 
great-grandmothers,  that  still  repose,  cold  and  grey,  in  well-moulded 
black  frames,  on  bedroom  walls  in  old-fashioned  red-brick  houses 
in  the  country,  bear  unmistakable  marks  of  being  modelled  after  the 
example  of  Sandby's  once  popular  style. 

Another  very  fashionable  teacher  of  the  day  was  JOHN  ALEXANDER 
GRESSE,  an  artist  of  Genevese  parentage.  His  name  survives  in 
that  of  a  neat  little  back  street  lying  between  Rathbone  Place  and 
Tottenham  Court  Road,  where  his  father  had  property,  which  he 
inherited.  It  was  in  his  time,  and  long  after,  a  neighbourhood  much 
occupied  by  artists.  'Jack  Grease,'  as  he  was  vulgarly  called,  in 
punning  recognition  of  his  foreign  name  and  corpulent  figure,  enjoyed 
Court  patronage,  was  teacher  to  the  princesses  in  1777,  and  is  said  to 
have  amused  the  King  at  the  same  time  with  gossiping  talk.  His 


CH.  VII  TEACHERS,    DRAFTSMEN   AND   DILETTANTI  69 

manner  of  drawing,  quite  the  ideal  of  the  old  method  of  tinting  on  a 
grey  basis,  is  admirably  shown  in  an  example  at  the  South  Kensington 
Museum,  an  unfinished  view  of  '  Llangollen  Bridge,'  in  which  the  artist 
has  been  interrupted  in  his  work  at  a  point  which  enables  us  to  see  at 
a  glance  his  course  of  proceeding.  The  result  of  an  education  and 
previous  practice  as  an  engraver  is  apparent  in  the  extreme  neatness 
of  the  preliminary  outline.  He  had  had  instruction  from  the  en- 
gravers Scotin  and  Major  and  from  the  landscape  painter  Zuccarelli, 
had  worked  for  Cipriani,  and  was  an  exhibitor  of  drawings  and  minia- 
tures at  the  Incorporated  Society's.  On  his  death,  at  the  age  of  fifty-two, 
in  1794,  a  collection  which  he  had  formed  was  dispersed  in  a  six  days' 
sale.1  Gresse's  careful  exactness  of  manner  was  transmitted  to,  and 
can  be  recognized  in  the  work  of  his  pupil  Robert  Hills,  one  of  the 
actual  founders  of  the  Water-Colour  Society. 

JOHN  LAPORTE  was  a  much  younger  man  than  Gresse,  but  con- 
temporary with  him  as  a  teacher  of  water-colours.  Besides  being 
employed  in  private  practice,  he  became  one  of  the  masters  at 
Addiscombe  military  college.  '  He  painted  landscapes,"  -says  Red- 
grave,2 '  introducing  cattle  with  effects  of  sunset  and  morning,  rain 
and  showers,  and  some  views  of  Lake  scenery.'  He  lived  from  1761 
to  1839.  Among  his  pupils  were  Dr.  Thomas  Monro,  the  great 
benefactor  to  water-colour  art,  already  mentioned  in  connection  with 
poor  Cozens. 

Among  the  artists  employed  by  Middiman  we  come  upon  another, 
whose  work  for  the  engraver  was,  or  afterwards  became,  quite  sub- 
ordinate to  his  drawings  made  for  their  own  sake,  and  whose  talent 
was  also  called  into  great  requisition  by  the  amateur  artists.  WILLIAM 
PAYNE,  whose  name  is  attached  to  four  subjects  in  Devon  and 
Cornwall,  dated  March  1788  and  January  1789  in  the  series  of 
plates  above  referred  to,  was  in  fact  one  of  the  leading  draftsmen  of 
his  day,  and  one  of  the  first  who  '  abandoned  mere  topography  for  a 
more  poetical  treatment  of  landscape  scenery.'3  It  is  not  known 
how  old  he  was  when  in  1790  he  left  his  native  Devonshire,  a  county 
prolific  of  painters,  where  he  had  lived  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the 
above  subjects,  namely  at  Plymouth  Dock,  now  called  Devonport,4 

1  Redgrave's  Dictionary.  2  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

*  Century  of  Painters,  i.  383. 

4  Ruskin  states  that,  when  Samuel  Prout  was  a  boy  at  Plymouth,  '  the  art  of  drawing 
was  little  understood  '  there,  'and  practised  only  by  Payne,  then  an  engineer  in  the  citadel." 
(Art  Journal,  i  March,  1849.) 


70  WATER-COLOUR   ART   IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY         BK.  I 

and  came  to  try  his  fortune  in  London,  taking  up  his  residence  in 
Thornhaugh  Street,  Bedford  _Square.  His  drawings  seem  already  to 
have  attracted  attention.  He  had  begun  to  exhibit  with  the  Incor- 
porated Society  as  long  before  as  1776,  and  since  1786  had  sent 
Devonshire  views  to  Somerset  House.  The  President  of  the 
Academy  praised  his  drawings,  particularly  some  views  of  slate 
quarries  at  Sir  Joshua's  own  native  place,  Plympton. 

Pyne  relates  that  his  small  works, '  brilliant  in  effect  and  executed 
with  spirit,'  were  '  regarded  as  striking  novelties  in  style,'  and  '  no 
sooner  seen  than  admired.'  Yet,  after  the  date  of  his  arrival  in 
London,  he  ceased  to  be  an  exhibitor  at  the  Royal  Academy. 
His  professional  career  was  henceforth  to  be  directed  by  a  different 
kind  of  patronage  to  that  of  the  buyers  of  his  water-colour  draw- 
ings. His  'style'  had  taken.  The  young  ladies  of  society  desired 
to  add  so  fascinating  a  form  of  drawing  to  the  list  of  their  ac- 
complishments, and  '  almost  every  family  of  fashion '  was  anxious 
that  its  sons  and  daughters  should  have  the  benefit  of  his  tuition. 
Payne  appears  to  have  been  the  very  man  to  satisfy  this  demand. 
He  had  effected  a  real  advance  in  water-colour  art,  better  adapting 
it  to  the  imitation  of  the  natural  scenery,  and  the  effects  of  sun- 
shine and  of  cloud,  which  it  was  now  called  upon  to  represent ; 
and,  besides  this,  he  had  reduced  his  practice  to  a  system  which 
could  easily  be  imparted  to  others.  The  simple  old  method  of 
staining  and  tinting  must  have  been  thoroughly  well  known  by  this 
time,  and  in  matters  of  technique  there  was  nothing  new  to  be 
got  out  of  Sandby  and  Gresse.  But  Payne  was  the  possessor  of 
what  was  called  a  '  style,' '  the  power  of  reproducing  which  in  one's 
own  drawings  could  be  secured  at  the  price  of  a  certain  number  of 
lessons.  He  thus  proved  himself  equal  to  the  occasion,  and  hence 
'  for  a  long  period,  in  the  noble  mansions  of  St.  James's  Square, 
and  Grosvenor  Square,  and  York  Place,  and  Portland  Place,  might 
be  seen  elegant  groups  of  youthful  amateurs  manufacturing  land- 
scapes a  la  Payne.' 2 

1  The  term  'style,'  used  '  in  the  phraseology  of  fashion'  (i.e.  in  its  lower  sense  of  a 
special  process  or  manner  which  can  be  taught  and  imitated,  as  distinguished  from  its  higher 
signification,  implying  a  certain  dignified  refinement  that  is  above  the  reach  of  the  mechanical 
copyist),  '  originated,'  according  to  Pyne,  '  with  the  drawings  of  Mr.  Payne. '  See  Somerset 
House  Gazette,  \.  133. 

~  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  162.  Four  '  Books,  Landscapes  from  Drawings  by  Payne, 
engraved  by  Bluck,'  are  advertised  at  the  end  of  A  Treatise  on  Ackerrnann's  Water- Colours, 
&c.  (1801). 


CH.  VII  TEACHERS,   DRAFTSMEN   AND    DILETTANTI  71 

The  following  account  of  his  course  of  proceeding  is  given  by  the 
Messrs.  Redgrave  : —  ' 

'  He  abandoned  the  use  of  outline  with  the  pen.  His  general 
process  was  very  simple.  Having  invented  a  grey  tint  (still  known 
by  the  colourmen  as  Payne's  grey),  he  used  it  for  all  the  varied 
gradations  of  his  middle  distance,  treating  the  extreme  distance,  as 
also  the  clouds  and  sky,  with  blue.  For  the  shadow  in  his  fore- 
ground he  used  Indian  ink  or  lamp-black,  breaking  these  colours  into 
the  distance  by  the  admixture  of  grey.  In  this  he  but  slightly 
differed  from  the  artists  of  his  time  ;  but  his  methods  of  handling 
were  more  peculiarly  his  own.  These  consisted  of  splitting  the  brush 
to  give  the  forms  of  foliage,  dragging  the  tints  to  give  texture  to  his 
foregrounds,  and  taking  out  the  forms  of  lights  by  wetting  the  sur- 
face and  rubbing  with  bread  and  rag.  .  .  .  Having  thus  prepared 
a  vigorous  light  and  shadow,  Payne  tinted  his  distance,  middle  dis- 
tance, and  foreground  with  colour,  retouching  and  deepening  the 
shadows  in  front  to  give  power  to  his  work,  and  even  loading  his 
colour  and  using  gum  plentifully.  He  sought  to  enrich  scenes  wherein 
he  had  attempted  effects  of  sunset  or  sunrise,  by  passing  a  full  wash 
of  gamboge  and  lake  over  the  completed  drawing.' 

Pyne  says  this  '  process  certainly  was  captivating,  as  exhibited  in 
his  happiest  works,  though  much  of  their  merit  was  the  result  of 
dexterity  and  trick,  as  exemplified  by  the  granulated  texture  obtained 
by  dragging,  the  fallacy  of  which  process  was  sufficiently  exposed  in 
every  attempt  at  composition  on  a  larger  scale  in  the  same  style.' 2 
That  writer  condemns  Payne's  teaching  as  the  commencement  of  a 
period  when  '  established  principles '  were  superseded  by  '  the  more 
fascinating  properties  of  dashing  colouring  and  effect.  The  method  of 
instruction,'  he  says,  '  in  the  art  of  drawing  landscape  compositions 
had  never  been  reduced  so  completely  to  the  degenerate  notions  of 
this  epoch  of  bad  taste  as  by  this  ingenious  artist.' 2  The  remark 
made  above  on  Alexander  Cozens's  haphazard  method  of  making 
landscapes  is  equally  true  of  Payne's  regulated  course  of  technical 
procedure.  Its  value  depends  on  its  artistic  application.  He  may 
have  enabled  many  of  his  pupils  to  record  for  themselves  the  beautiful 
appearances  of  nature,  and  some  amateurs  may  have  had  observance 
and  taste  enough  to  profit  by  the  possession.  But  there  were  doubtless 

1  Century  of  Painters,  \.  382-3.  *  Somerset  House  Gazette.  \.  162. 


72          WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        BK.  I 

more  who  took  the  means  for  the  end,  and,  instead  of  going  to  nature, 
were  content  to  copy  the  works  of  their  teacher. 

Whatever  may  be  thought  of  the  nature  of  their  various  nostrums, 
this  congregation  of  doctors  implied  the  existence  of  something  like 
an  epidemic  of  water-colour  painting  that  had  already  become  pre- 
valent among  amateurs.     Some  of  the  symptoms  of  the  disease  when 
at  its  highest  are  humorously  described  in  the  following  skit,  which 
appeared  in  or  about  the  year  1787  :  '"What  a  fine,  clear  morning! 
I  will  do  my  sky.     Betty !  tell  your  mistress,  if  anyone  calls,  I  can't 
be  seen — I'm  skying.     Betty  !  Betty !  bring  me  up  a  pan  of  water, 
and   wash   that  sponge  :  it  really  is'  so  hot,  I  cannot  lay  my  colour 
smooth.     Where's  the  flat  brush  ?     Oh  dear !  that  Prussian  blue  is 
all  curdled."     "  Please,  pa,  ma  says,  will  you  take  any  refreshment  ?  " 
"  Get  away  !  get  away !  how  ever  can  your  raz  think  about  refresh- 
ment, when  she  knows  I'm  doing  my  sky  ?     Th;_re,  you've  knocked 
down  my  swan's  quill,  and  how  am   I  to  soften  tl  is  colour  ?     It  will 
all  be  dry  before  you  wash  out  the  dirt.     Give  me  that  brush.     Oh,  it 
is  full  of  indigo  !     There  is  the  horizon  spoilt !     Quick  !  quick  !  some 
water !    Oh,  that's  gall !   And  the  sky  is  flying  away  !   Why  did  your 
mother  send  you  here  ?    She  might  have  known  that  I  was  skying." ' 
The  attention  which  was  being  paid  in  high  circles  to  the  practice 
of  drawing  by  amateurs,  as  well  as  the  influence  attributed  thereto 
upon  art  itself,  may  be  inferred  from  a  list  of  '  Premiums  for  Pro- 
moting  the    Polite  Arts,'  offered  by  the  Society  of  Arts  in    1790. 
Among  '  Honorary  Premiums  for  Drawings '  there  are  a  gold  and  a 
silver  medal  'for  the  best  drawing  by  sons  or  grandtons,'  and  the 
like  for  '  daughters  or  granddaughters,  of  peers  or  peeresses  of  Great 
Britain  or  Ireland,'  and  '  for  the  best  drawing  of  any  kind  by  young 
gentlemen   under   the   age   of  twenty-one;'   and   again,  'the  same 
premiums  will  be  given  for  drawings  by  young  ladies.'     The  amateur 
character  of  the  competition  is  secured  by  the  concluding  proviso  : 
'  N.B.     Persons  professing  any  branch  of  the  polite  arts,  or  the  sons 
or  daughters  of  such  persons,  will  not  be  admitted  candidates  in  these 
classes.' 2 

While   emulation   was   thus    encouraged,    and   instruction,   both 
sound  and  specious,  was  obtainable  by  the  unprofessional  as  well  as 

1  Quoted  in  Thornbury's  Life  of  Turner,  p.  85,  2nd  edit. 

*  See  an  advertisement  dated  14  May,  1790,  in  The  Gentleman's  Magazine,  vol.  Ix. 
part  I,  p.  458. 


CH.  vii  TEACHERS,   DRAFTSMEN   AND   DILETTANTI  73 

the  professional  student,  the  popular  use  of  water-colours,  and  also 
their  application  to  a  more  complete  form  of  painting,  was  facilitated 
by  a  better  manufacture  of  artists'  materials.  '  About  1780,'  says 
Mr.  Redgrave,1  'a  great  improvement  began.  Up  to  this  time  every 
artist  had  to  prepare  his  own  dry  colours,  which  for  want  of  sufficient 
knowledge  of  their  chemical  properties,  and  the  leisure  to  grind  and 
prepare  them,  gave  him  much  trouble,  and  produced '  most  un- 
satisfactory '  results.  They  were,  in  fact,  very  bad,  the  materials 
ill  selected,  their  fixed  or  fugitive  qualities  unknown,  and  when  pre- 
pared they  were  scarcely  fit  for  use.  The  dry  colours,  after  grinding 
with  water  in  gum,  were  moulded  into  a  lump  by  the  fingers.  At 
the  above  date  Messrs.  Reeves  turned  their  attention  to  the  pre- 
paration of  water-colours  for  our  artists,  and  first  moulded  them  into 
the  form  of  cakes  (as  they  are  now  called),  on  which  their  name 
was  impressed.  Their  success  was  early  acknowledged,  and  in  1781 
the  Society  of  Arts  awarded  their  great  silver  palette  to  Messrs. 
Thomas  and  William  Reeves  for  their  improved  water-colours.' 

*, 

While  the  art  was  developing  under  these  various  impulses,  the 
topographic  draftsmen  continued  to  exercise  their  calling.  Recurring 
to  Middiman's  volume  and  continuing  to  turn  over  its  leaves,  we  find 
upon  a  plate  of  '  Cliefden  Spring,  Bucks,' dated  25  May,  1785,  the 
name  Samuel  Ireland.  This  artist  afterwards  took  up  on  his  own 
account  the  trade  of  topographic-print  making,  and  published,  in  1792- 
93,  volumes  of  Picturesque  Views,  on  the  Thames,  the  Medway,  and 
the  Severn,  which  he  aquatinted  himself  from  his  own  sketches. 
Early  in  the  year  1792  a  new  venture  was  made,  in  the  publication  of 
a  series  of  small  engravings  of  the  same  class  as  '  Sandby's  Views,' 
and  '  Watts's  Seats.'  It  took  the  old  name  of  The  Copper  Plate 
Magazine,  with  a  second  title  of  Monthly  Cabinet  of  Picturesque 
Prints;  which  it  further  described  as  '  Sublime  and  Interesting  Views 
in  Great  Britain  and  Ireland,  beautifully  engraved  by  the  most  emi- 
nent artists,  from  the  Paintings  and  Drawings  of  the  First  Masters.' 
The  issue  was  commenced  in  shilling2  monthly  numbers  containing 
two  prints  apiece.  These  being  collected  in  a  volume  at  the  end  of 

1  Descriptive  Catalogue,  pp.  16,  17. 

2  At  the  end  of  vol.  iv. ,  viz.  in  May  1800,  it  was  announced  that,  owing  to  the  price  of 
paper  having  nearly  doubled  and  the  expense  of  every  other  department  having  very  con- 
siderably advanced,  there  was  a  monthly  loss,  and  that  the  future  price  would  be  \s.  6d.  per 
number. 


74  WATER-COLOUR   ART    IN    EIGHTEENTH    CENTURY        BK.  I 

every  two  years,  the  complete  work  contains  250  plates,  bearing  dates 
from  I  Feb.  1792,10  i  June,  1802.  The  first  volume  was  published 
by  Harrison  and  Co.  of  Paternoster  Row  ;  but  in  the  second  the  name 
of  J.  Walker,  engraver,  of  16  Rosomon's  Street,  Clerkenwell,  was 
added,  and  afterwards  the  plates  were  printed  for  Walker  alone. 
Hence,  and  to  distinguish  it  from  Kearsley's  older  work  of  the  same 
name,  it  is  usually  known  as  '  Walker's  Copper  Plate  Magazine.' 
These  volumes  are  in  oblong  quarto,  the  plates  being  accompanied  by 
descriptions  printed  on  separate  leaves.  A  portion  of  the  subjects 
were  also  printed,  each  on  the  same  page  with  its  letterpress,  and  this 
folio  edition  was  called  The  Itinerant.  Many  of  the  views  are  of 
towns  ;  but  the  old  element  of  gentlemen's  seats  is  largely  included,  as 
well  as  ruined  abbeys,  &c.,  and  existing  public  buildings.  Most  of  the 
plates,  latterly  nearly  all,  were  engraved  by  Jo/in  Walker,  at  first  in  con- 
junction with  his  father  William  Walker,  who  died  on  the  i8th  of 
February,  1793,  before  the  first  volume  was  complete.  This  elder 
Walker  was,  says  Redgrave,1  '  employed  for  nearly  thirty  years  upon 
the  illustration  of  the  publications  of  the  day,  and  also  engraved  some 
good  plates  for  Alderman  Boydell.  Early  in  life  he  discovered  the 
valuable  art  of  rebiting  etchings,  and  Woollett,  who  occasionally  used 
the  process,  when  successful  was  wont  to  exclaim  :  "  Thank  you, 
William  Walker."  ' 

Although  the  plates  in  this  new  copper-plate  magazine  have  no 
special  claim  to  admiration  as  specimens  of  engraving,2  the  series  is 
of  considerable  historic  interest,  not  only  as  carrying  on  the  succession 
of  works  designed  to  illustrate  British  topography,  but  because  it 
contains  the  earliest  engraved  designs  of  the  two  artists  who,  more 
than  any  others,  are  regarded  as  the  regenerators,  if  not  the  actual 
founders,  of  our  modern  school  of  water-colour  painting.  Their  names 
are  Thomas  Girtin  and  (as  he  then  signed  himself)  William  Turner. 
'  T.  Girtin  '  is  the  designer  of  a  view  of  Windsor,  published  in  the 
fourth  number,  as  Plate  VII.,  with  the  date  I  May,  1792.  He  was  then 
about  seventeen  years  old,  and  probably  the  youngest  of  the  artists 
employed.  He  had  not  received  his  full  inspiration,  and  risen  to  his 
true  standard.  The  name  of  Turner,  who  was  of  the  same  age 
(within  a  year)  as  Girtin,  does  not  appear  until  two  years  later,  namely 

1  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

*  Among   the  generally  mediocre  plates  by   Walker  are  a  few  of  a  better  class,   by 
Medland,  Filler,  Heath,  and  Middiman. 


Cir.  vn  TEACHERS,    DRAFTSMEN   AND    DILETTANTI  75 

with  the  date    i   May,   1794,  attached  to    Plate  LV.  in  the  second 
volume,  a  view  of  Rochester. 

Some  of  the  other  men  who  drew  for  Walker's  magazine  in  its 
opening  year  demand  prior  notice  by  reason  of  their  seniority.  One 
of  them,  who  drew  the  first  plate,  a  view  of  Oxford,  was  'EDWARD 
DAYES,  a  sound  topographic  draftsman,  who  tinted  over  Indian  ink, 
in  the  established  manner  of  the  day,  with  accuracy  and  grace,  and 
excelled  in  architectural  subjects,  enlivening  them  with  careful  groups 
of  well-drawn  figures.  He  had  learned,  too,  from  William  Pether  to 
scrape  mezzotints,  and  practised  that  art  as  well  as  painted  in  minia- 
ture. He  took  pupils  in  drawing,  and  young  Girtin  had  for  a  time 
been  bound  to  him  as  an  apprentice.  The  date  of  his  birth  is  not 
known  ;  but  he  began  to  exhibit  at  the  Academy  in  1786.  A  careful 
view  of  Greenwich  Hospital,  by  him,  with  boats  and  figures,  in  the 
possession  of  Mr.  Henry  Pilleau,  M. R.W.I.,  is  dated  1788.  There  is  a 
tinted  drawing  by  him  at  South  Kensington,  representing  Buckingham 
House,  St.  James's  Park,  almost  a  figure  subject,  dated  1790;  and 
another  of  Ely  Cathedral,  drawn  in  the  year  1792  (that  of  Walker's 
first  plate),  in  which  we  may  perceive  an  advance  towards  the  full  use 
of  colour.  Further  mention  will  have  to  be  made  of  Dayes  as  a 
writer  on  art,  as  well  as  in  other  ways  less  to  his  credit. 

F.  Wlieatley,  R.A.,  before  mentioned,  was  another  of  the  contri- 
butors of  views  to  this  first  year's  issue  of  the  Walker  prints.  Richard 
Corbould,  father  of  a  family  of  good  draftsmen,  and  himself  a  man  of 
varied  accomplishments,  who  painted  (in  oil  and  water-colour)  history, 
portraits,  landscapes  and  miniature  enamels,  was  another.  A  view  of 
Cliefden  by  him,  engraved  by  Heath  on  Plate  XX.,  is  fine  and  broad 
in  effect.  He  was  at  this  time  thirty-five  years  old,  and  had  begun  to 
exhibit  in  1776  at  the  Free  Society.  He  lived  till  1831,  dying  in  that 
year  at  the  age  of  seventy-four.  Then,  a  year  younger  than  Corbould, 
there  is  Charles  Cation,  Junior.  His  father  was  a  Royal  Academician, 
and  he  a  scene-painter,  who  also  travelled  and  sketched  for  the 
topographic  publishers.  He  was  better  known  as  a  painter  of  animals. 
Edward  Francis  Burney,  well  known  by  his  small  book  illustrations  as 
an  elegant  figure  and  subject  designer,  also  gives  us  a  couple  of  views, 
one  of  his  native  town  of  Worcester.  Old  Paul  Sandby  also 
reappears,  in  a  capacity  in  which  landscape  draftsmen  had  now  begun 
to  be  habitually  employed,  that  of  putting  into  shape  the  works  of 
amateurs.  For  example,  Plate  XXIII., '  Londonderry,' I  Jan.  1793,13 


76          WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN  EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        BK.  I 

drawn  by  Sandby '  from  an  original  sketch  by  J.  Nixon,  Esq.'  Among 
the  so-called  '  First  Masters '  who  took  part  in  this  '  monthly  cabinet,' 
there  were  also  persons  outside  the  bounds  of  the  profession,  whose 
drafts  were  not  so  settled  by  a  regular  practitioner.  Their  engage- 
ment may  be  taken  as  further  evidence  of  the  extending  practice  of 
dilettante  art. 

More  important  among  the  new  names  is  that  of  Francis  Nichol- 
son, who  contributed  two  views,  dated  August  and  December  1792. 
Nicholson  was  one  of  the  earliest  of  our  draftsmen  to  convince  him- 
self of  the  power  of  water-colour  to  compete  with  oil,  and  also  one  of 
the  first  to  put  his  theory  into  practice.  He  was  at  this  time  thirty- 
nine  years  of  age.  His  name  had  first  appeared  in  the  exhibition 
catalogues  in  1789,  and  a  dozen  years  afterwards  he  became  one  of 
the  foundation  members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society.  By  that  time 
he  had  matured  his  practice,  and  there  will  in  due  course  be  much 
more  to  say  both  of  his  works  and  of  himself. 

It  will  have  been  seen  that  water-colour  draftsmen  had  hitherto 
been  much  less  under  the  influence  of  precedent  than  had  their 
brethren  who  painted  in  oils.  In  the  practice  of  their  craft  there  was 
not  so  much  to  learn  from  pictures  by  the  old  masters.  Thus  they 
had  but  slightly  participated  in  the  advantages,  which  had  been  de- 
rived by  the  more  established  branches  of  their  profession,  from  the 
liberality  of  possessors  of  fine  works  of  art,  in  rendering  them  avail- 
able for  study.  Many  instances  of  such  liberality  are  recorded  in  the 
last  century.  The  earliest  conspicuous  example  is  that  of  Dr.  Richard 
Mead,  who  died  in  1754,  aged  eighty-four,  '  a  celebrated  physician 
and  great  patron  of  artists  and  other  men  of  genius.  He  for  several 
years  resided  in  the  city,  and  latterly  in  New  Orrnond  Street.  He 
was  one  of  the  first  collectors  who  threw  open  his  gallery  of  pictures 
to  the  students  and  all  amateurs  of  art.  His  house,  indeed,  might  be 
said  to  have  been  the  first  academy  of  painting.' ' 

Then,  in  the  month  of  March  1758,  the  Duke  of  Richmond 
opened  for  young  students  his  statue  gallery  at  Whitehall,  '  furnished 
with  casts  of  the  most  celebrated  ancient  and  modern  figures  at  Rome 
and  Florence,' 2  with  the  result,  it  is  said,  of  inducing  a  purer  taste  in 
figure-drawing.  There  are  few  lives  of  eminent  English  painters  of 
that  transitional  time,  in  which  an  early  inspiration  is  not  traced  to  the 
sight  of  some  old  master's  work  in  the  private  galleries  of  the  wealthy. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \,  35  «.  2  Pye's  Patronage  of  British  Art,  p.  83. 


CH.  vil  TEACHERS,    DRAFTSMEN    AND    DILETTANTI  77 

The  age  was  now  approaching  when  the  landscape  draftsmen  also 
would  have  some  early  masters  to  look  up  to  for  the  formation  of 
their  taste,  and  as  models  of  style  ;  and  opportunities  for  making  such 
profitable  retrospect  were  afforded  at  the  epoch  at  which  our  chronicle 
has  now  arrived.  There  chanced  to  be  an  amateur,  whose  fine  and 
cultivated  taste  and  practical  knowledge,  combined  with  a  warm- 
hearted spirit  of  benevolence,  and  an  earnest  desire  to  foster  a  rising 
school,  of  which  he  discerned  the  promise  of  excellence,  enabled  him 
about  this  time  to  do  a  most  essential  service  to  some  young  aspirants 
in  this  branch  of  art.  This  was  Dr.  THOMAS  MONRO,  already  men- 
tioned as  the  kind  friend  in  need  to  John  Cozens  during  the  affliction 
under  which  that  artist  ended  his  days.  As  a  leader  of  connoisseur- 
ship,  he  was  looked  upon  in  his  day  much  in  the  same  light  as 
Sir  George  Beaumont  and  Mr.  Payne  Knight.  But  in  the  exercise  of 
his  patronage  he  was  specially  distinguished  by  the  services  he 
rendered  to  water-colour  painting,  in  these  its  early  days.  The 
Earl  of  Essex,  Mr.  Lascelles  ('  Prince  Lascelles '  as  he  was  called,  from 
his  likeness  to  the  Prince  of  Wales),  Dr.  Monro,  and  Dr.  Burney, 
with  two  or  three  more,  seem  to  have  been  the  chief  encouragers  of 
this  branch  of  art ;  but  none  to  have  taken  more  effectual  means  to 
promote  the  education  of  young  artists  than  Dr.  Thomas  Monro. 

He  was  the  youngest  son  of  Dr.  John  Monro.  His  father,  who  had 
recently  died,  in  1791,  at  the  age  of  seventy-six,  had  also  been  en- 
dowed with  an  elegant  taste,  and  his  collection  of  books  and  of  prints 
was  very  considerable.  Deeply  versed  in  the  early  history  of  en- 
graving, he  gave  great  help  to  Strutt  in  his  work  on  that  subject. 
There  were  at  least  five  generations  of  Dr.  Monros,1  beginning  with 
John's  father,  Dr.  James  Monro  (born  1680,  died  1752).  They  were 
chiefly  known  in  their  profession  by  skill  in  the  treatment  of  insanity. 
The  member  of  the  family  with  whom  we  are  particularly  concerned 
was  one  of  the  physicians  who  attended  King  George  the  Third,  as 
well  as  poor  John  Cozens. 

It  was  in  or  about  the  year  1793  that  Dr.  Thomas   Monro,  then 

1  There  is  some  excuse  for  confusion  among  so  many  doctors  of  one  name.  And  when 
we  read  of  three  more  Dr.  Monros,  a  father  and  two  sons,  of  a  Scotch  family,  who  distin- 
guished themselves  as  physicians  and  writers  of  scientific  works,  the  pedigree  becomes  even 
less  determinable.  Redgrave  {Descriptive  Catalogue  S.K.M.  p.  23)  is  one  generation  behind 
in  attributing  Dr.  Thomas  Monro's  patronage  of  water-colour  art  to  Dr.  John  Monro. 
Thornbury  (Life  of  Turner)  and  others  spell  the  name  'Munro.'  Possibly,  also,  the  fact 
that  Mr.  Munro  of  Novar  was  a  great  collector  of  Turner's  works,  may  have  helped  to 
mislead  some  writers. 


78          WATER-COLOUR  ART   IN   EIGHTEENTH   CENTURY        BK.  I 

thirty-four  years  of  age,  removed  from  Bedford  Square,  where  he  had 
previously  resided,  to  No.  4  or  6  Adelphi  Terrace,  which  row  of 
houses  had  been  built  about  twenty  years  before  by  the  brothers 
Adam,  and  then  overhung  the  Thames  as  it  now  overhangs  the  river 
embankment.  His  house  was  filled  with  pictures  and  drawings,  many 
by  Gainsborough,  hanging  on  the  walls,  and  he  allowed  them  to  be 
freely  copied  by  young  artists.  These  he  took  great  delight,  too,  in 
assisting  with  his  advice.  He  was  himself  an  able  amateur  drafts- 
man, a  pupil  (as  above  stated)  of  Laporte's,  and  an  ardent  sketcher, 
as  well  as  worshipper  of  works  of  art. 

The  story  has  often  been  told  of  Sir  George  Beaumont's  practice 
of  taking  Claude's  little  picture  of  '  Narcissus '  with  him  to  look  at 
while  he  travelled.  Dr.  Monro  was  an  enthusiast  of  like  habits.  So 
fond  was  he  of  works  of  art  that  he  was  never  satisfied  without  some 
of  them  in  sight.  Inside  the  roof  of  his  carriage  he  had  a  netting 
placed,1  in  which  he  always  slipped  a  folio  of  drawings  when  he  went 
to  his  country  house  at  Fetcham 2  in  Surrey.  At  home  he  contrived 
to  have  his  drawings  so  arranged  that  they  could  readily  be  removed 
in  case  of  fire. 

He  seems  to  have  had  a  special  fondness  for  Gainsborough.  '  Of 
all  the  imitators  of  that  painter's  '  style  of  sketching,'  says  Pyne, '  per- 
haps excepting  the  late  Mr.  Hoppner,3  he  was  the  nearest  to  his 
prototype.'  The  same  writer  declares  that  he  had  'seen  many  of 
these  pasticci '  which  it  would  '  puzzle  the  cognoscenti  to  detect  from 
the  originals.'4  It  was  this  Dr.  Monro  who  is  mentioned  above  as 
having  purchased  from  Gainsborough's  daughter  her  father's  interest- 
ing '  camera' 

Dr.  Monro's  patronage  of  young  artists  was  not  confined  to  giving 
them  access  to  his  pictures  and  portfolios,  and  letting  them  make 
copies,  and  assisting  them  with  his  own  judicious  advice.  He  had  a 
pleasant  way  of  bringing  them  together,  on  a  system  which  combined 
the  benefit  of  this  kind  of  study  with  mutual  instruction,  and  with  a 
small  pecuniary  profit  to  them  at  the  same  time.  In  winter  evenings, 

1  J.  J.  J.  ex  relationt  C.  Varley. 

1  A  view  of  Dr.  Monro's  house  at  Fetcham,  by  Thomas  Girtin,  was  bought  for  the  South 
Kensington  Museum,  at  Dr.  Percy's  sale,  17  April,  1890. 

*  A  large  number  of  Hoppner's  slight  landscape  sketches  in  black  chalk  on  grey  paper 
are  at  the  British  Museum. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  8.  A  chalk  drawing  answering  to  this  description  was  in 
the  collection  of  the  late  Dr.  Percy. 


CH.  vii  TEACHERS,    DRAFTSMEN    AND    DILETTANTI  79 

he  encouraged  young  men  to  make  a  studio  of  his  house.  There 
they  put  their  sketches  into  pictorial  shape  under  the  doctor's  eye, 
and  he  gave  them  their  supper  and  half  a  crown  apiece  for  their 
work.  Desks  were  provided,  with  a  candle  which  served  for  two 
sketchers,  one  sitting  opposite  to  the  other.  Not  a  few  of  our  best 
water-colour  painters  thus  derived  benefit  from  their  early  practice  at 
Dr.  Monro's  ;  but  the  most  distinguished  of  all  were  the  two  future 
artists,  whose  names  must  ever  be  linked  together  as  the  real 
founders  of  our  water-colour  school — Girtin  and  Turner. 


BOOK    II 

THE  LIFE  AND   TIMES  OF  THOMAS  GIRTIN 


CHAPTER    I 
TURNER  AND   GIRTIN   AS  STUDENTS  AND   REFORMERS. 

Girtin  and  Turner  with  Dr.  Monro — Early  drawings — Mutual  relations — Different  disposi- 
tions— Turner's  admiration  of  Girtin — Girtin's  birth,  parentage,  and  early  life — Appren- 
ticed to  Dayes — Imprisonment  and  release — Colouring  prints — London  river  scenes — 
Work  for  architects— Mr.  Henderson — Masters  studied  by  Turner  and  Girtin— Girtin's 
exhibits  at  the  R.A. — Sketches  in  Wales —Teaches  amateurs — Taken  to  North  by  Mr. 
Moore— Influence  of  mountain  scenery —Draws  again  for  '  Walker's  Magazine ' — Changes 
of  address — Charged  with  mannerism — Processes  and  materials — Taking  out  lights— F. 
Nicholson  and  the  Earl  of  Warwick — Influence  of  Girtin's  'style' — His  perseverance — 
Habits  when  sketching — Patrons. 

TURNER  and  Girtin  were  of  one  age,  born  in  1775,  and  acquainted 
before  they  studied  together  at  Dr.  Monro's  and  perhaps  shared  the 
same  candle  of  a  winter's  evening.  It  is  not  exactly  known  at  what 
dates  they  began  to  work  there,  or  how  long  they  so  worked  in  com- 
pany. A  memorandum  by  the  late  Mr.  John  Pye,  the  engraver,  tells 
us  that  the  first  mention  of  Turner  in  Dr.  Monro's  journal  is  in 
1793,  and  that  Girtin  was  not  employed  by  him  as  long  as  Turner 
was.  He  says  that  '  Dr.  Monro  engaged  them  at  two  or  three  shillings 
apiece  and  a  good  supper,  to  put  in  effects  of  black  and  white  and  of 
colour  into  black  lead  outlines.'  When  the  Doctor  removed  to  Adelphi 
Terrace,1  they  were  on  the  verge  of  manhood,  and  the  proficiency  of 
each  had  been  already  recognized.  Girtin,  as  we  have  seen,  had  had 
a  design  engraved  by  the  Walkers  in  the  new  '  Copper  Plate  Magazine ' 
in  1792  ;  and  Turner,  who  had  been  an  Academy  student  since  1789, 

1  Dr.  Monro  had  also  a  country  house  at  Bushey,  near  Watford,  besides  that  at  Fetcham. 
Turner  told  David  Roberts,  R.A.,  that  he  and  Girtin  had  often  walked  to  Bushey  and  back 
to  make  drawings  for  their  kind  patron,  at  the  price  above  stated.  (See  Watts's  'Biogra- 
phical Sketch  of  Turner,'  prefixed  to  the  Liber  Fluviorum,  p.  xi. ) 


82  LIFE   AND   TIMES    OF   THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  II 

had  in  1790,  when  fifteen  years  of  age,  shown  his  first  work  at 
Somerset  House,  a  tinted  drawing  of  Lambeth  Palace,1  to  be  followed 
by  others  for  many  successive  years. 

Dr.  Monro  had  himself  been  buying  Turner's  youthful  drawings 
at  two  guineas  apiece,2  from  his  father,  a  thrifty  little  hairdresser  in 
Maiden  Lane,  Covent  Garden  ;  who,  having  many  customers,  had 
managed  to  establish  a  good  connection  among  patrons,  to  the 
advantage  of  his  clever  son.  Young  Turner  had  now  set  up  a  studio 
of  his  own,  in  Hand  Court,  close  to  his  father's  shop. 

The  acquaintance  between  Girtin  and  Turner  is  said  to  have 
commenced  during  a  joint  employment,  as  lads,  to  colour  prints  for 
John  Raphael  Smith,  painter  and  mezzotint  engraver,  who  also  carried 
on  an  extensive  trade,  as  a  publisher  and  print-dealer,  in  King  Street, 
Covent  Garden.  It  is  not  improbable  that  the  Doctor's  acquaintance 
with  them  was  made  while  they  were  thus  engaged.  There  is  not 
much  known  as  to  what  kind  of  original  work  Girtin  produced  under 
Dr.  Monro's  hospitable  roof;  but  Turner's  grey  drawings,  some  of 
them  based  perhaps  on  his  host's  own  sketches,  are  met  with  from 
time  to  time.  When  Dr.  Monro's  collection  was  sold,  in  1833,  Dr. 
Burney  and  Turner  were  together  in  the  sale  room.  '  I  understand," 
said  Turner,  pointing  to  some  of  the  lots  to  which  his  own  name 
was  attached,  '  that  you  have  the  bad  taste  to  admire  these  things 
more  than  I  do  now.1  '  It  will  be  sufficient  for  me  to  say,'  answered 
the  polite  connoisseur,  'that  I  admire  everything  you  do,  Mr.  Turner.' 
'  Well,'  returned  the  other,  a  little  flattered,  '  perhaps  they  are  not  so 
bad  ;  for  half  a  crown — and  one's  oysters.' 3  It  is  possible  that  Girtin 
also  may  have  had  a  hand  in  some  of  these  drawings,  there  being 
good  authority  for  saying  that  he  made  a  great  number  of  outlines, 
some  of  which  the  Doctor  got  Turner  to  tint  in  grey,  and  just  work 
afterwards  with  colour ;  and  that  Girtin  complained  of  this  as  not 
giving  him  the  same  chance  of  learning  to  paint.4 

It  was  by  the  attraction  of  like  proclivities  in  art  alone  that  the 
two  lads  were  brought  together.  As  they  grew  up,  it  appeared  that 

1  The  drawing  was  lent  by  Mrs.  Courtauld  to  the  Turner  collection  at  the  Royal 
Academy  in  1887.  A  view  of  the  gateway,  belonging  to  Mr.  P.  C.  Hardwick,  apparently 
of  about  the  same  date,  was  among  the  '  Drawings  of  Architectural  Subjects  '  exhibited  at 
the  Burlington  Fine  Arts  Club  in  1884. 

>  Pye's  MS.  Notes. 

•  This  was  told  to  Mr.  Jenkins  in  April  1865  by  James   Holland,  who  had  it   from  Dr. 
Burney  himself. 

*  This  was  told  to  Mr.  Jenkins  by  Cornelius  Varley  on  I  January,  1858. 


CH.  I    TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS     83 

their  characters  and  tastes  were  in  other  respects  widely  different. 
Turner,  it  is  well  known,  was  reticent  of  his  knowledge,  and  close  as 
to  his  methods  of  work.  Girtin,  on  the  other  hand,  was  of  an  open, 
careless,  and  sociable  disposition,  always  ready  to  impart  what  he 
knew,  and  assist  even  his  rivals  in  art.  As  to  their  '  human  relation- 
ship,' we  have,  as  Mr.  Monkhouse  observes,  in  his  '  Life  of  Turner,' ' 
very  little  information.  '  Turner,'  he  writes,  '  always  spoke  of  Girtin 
as"  Poor  Tom,"  and  proposed  to,  and  possibly  did,  put  up  a  tablet  to 
his  memory  ;  but  there  are  no  letters  or  anecdotes  to  show  that  what 
we  all  mean  by  "  friendship  "  ever  existed  between  them.' 2  What 
Girtin  thought  of  Turner  we  do  not  know ;  but  the  latter  declared 
that  '  Tom  was  a  brilliant  fellow,' 3  and  always  expressed  a  high 
admiration  of  his  abilities.  Girtin's  son,  however,  told  Mr.  Jenkins 
that  he  had  twice  written  to  Turner  upon  some  matter  of  interest  to 
him  about  his  father,  but  that  Turner  never  had  the  courtesy  to 
answer  his  letters.  Although  Turner's  name  is,  as  it  deserves  to  be, 
incomparably  the  greater  in  the  history  of  painting,  that  of  his  short- 
lived confrere  in  art  demands  for  several  reasons  the  first,  and  in 
some  respects  a  higher,  place  in  the  present  record. 

THOMAS  GIRTIN  was  the  elder  son  of  a  rope-maker  in  Southwark,4 
who  is  said  to  have  done  a  large  business  in  cordage  for  shipping. 
Dying  young  (Thornbury  says  he  was  killed  when  hunting),  he  left 
his  two  boys,  Tom  and  Jack,  to  the  care  of  his  widow,  who  took 
rooms  for  the  three  '  over  a  shop '  at  No.  i  St.  Martin's-le-Grand,  in  or 
about  the  year  1783.  Such  at  least  is  the  date  if,  as  it  is  alleged, 
Tom  Girtin  was  eight  years  old  at  his  father's  death.  For  he  seems 
to  have  been  born  on  the  i8th  of  February,  1775.  Some  writers, 
including  Pilkington,  Redgrave,  and  Miller,  misled  apparently  by  an 
obituary  notice  in  the  'Gentleman's  Magazine,' give  the  date  1773, 
which  may  there  be  a  misprint.  But  the  date  1775  accords  with  the  age 
given,  both  on  his  tombstone  and  by  Dayes  (to  whom  he  had  been 

1  Page  24. 

a  The  same  writer  adds  :  '  We  are  equally  ignorant  as  to  the  amount  of  intimacy  between 
Turner  and  Dr.  Monro,  for  though  the  latter  did  not  die  till  1833,  there  is  nothing  to  show 
that  they  ever  met  after  Turner's  students  days  were  over.'  Pye  declared  (MS.  Notes) 
that,  in  Dr.  Monro's  opinion,  the  great  painter  was  '  blunt,  coarse,  vulgar,  and  sly.'  So 
perhaps  his  patron  may  not  have  sought  his  society. 

3  J.  J.  J.,  ex  relatione  Mr.  Chambers  Hall. 

*  No  more  is  known  of  his  ancestry  ;  or  of  a  certain  '  I.  Girtin '  (called  'James  '  in  the 
Catalogue  of  the  South  Kensington  Art  Library),  who  etched  a  series  of  poorly  executed 
Portraits  of  Celebrated  Painters,  published,  with  some  by  other  hands,  in  410,  1817. 

G  2 


84  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF    THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  n 

apprenticed),  and  also  assigned  to  him  by  his  own  family.  Pye,  in 
his  MS.  Notes,  gives  the  same  date,  as  copied  from  a  mourning  ring 
worn  by  his  widow,  and — best  evidence  of  all — from  one  worn  by 
his  mother,  who  survived  him. 

'  From  his  earliest  childhood,'  says  Pye,1  '  he  displayed  a  decided 
passion  for  drawing  and  modelling  ; '  covering  '  every  scrap  of  paper 
that  came  to  hand,'  add  the  Messrs.  Redgrave,2  '  with  his  boyish 
fancies  ;  but,'  continue  the  latter  writers,  '  as  he  himself  said  that 
other  boys  of  his  own  age,  ten  or  twelve,  who  amused  themselves  or 
idled  in  the  same  way,  drew  as  well  as  himself,  we  may  be  assured 
that  there  was  nothing  very  marked  in  these  childish  efforts.'  His 
mother,  humouring  his  taste,  allowed  him  to  take  some  elementary 
lessons  in  drawing  from  one  Mr.  Fisher,  of  Aldersgate  Street,  close  by ; 
and,  when  he  was  old  enough,  apprenticed  him  to  Dayes. 

Thornbury,  in  his  '  Life  of  Turner,'  give  a  melodramatic  account 
of  Dayes's  unjust  behaviour,  and  Girtin's  subsequent  rescue  from  his 
tyranny.  The  apprentice,  finding  himself  regarded  only  as  a  means 
of  getting  money,  and  that  he  was  paying  back  in  work  more  than 
the  value  of  his  premium,  rebels,  and  is  cast  into  prison  for  contu- 
macy. There  he  shows  his  genius  by  decorating  with  landscapes  the 
walls  of  his  cell.  They  astonish  the  warder  and  attract  the  curious  ; 
and  then  there  comes  upon  the  scene  a  deus  ex  machina  in  the  shape 
of  the  great  Earl  of  Essex,  who  buys  up  the  indentures,  burns  them 
before  the  young  artist's  eyes,  and  carries  him  off  to  '  the  almost  regal 
uxury  of  Cassiobury,  where  Girtin,  free  and  happy,'  produces  '  some 
of  his  greatest  works." 

All  this  reads  rather  like  a  picturesque  romance  introduced  for  the 
sake  of  a  learned  parallel  drawn  from  the  life  of '  Fra  Lippo  Lippi ; ' 
and  some  will  prefer  the  tale  in  the  less  varnished,  if  somewhat  caustic, 
words  of  John  Pye.3  Young  Girtin,  he  tells  us,  soon  excelled  his 
master,  which  'this  jealous  and  small-minded  creature  '  never  forgave 
him.  The  praise  bestowed  upon  his  pupil  was  gall  to  him,  and 
increased  his  hatred.  In  order  to  check  his  progress,  he  employed 
him  to  colour  prints  week  after  week  and  month  after  month.  This 
was  his  employment  till,  feeling  himself  designed  for  better  things,  he 
expostulated  with  Dayes,  telling  him  he  was  placed  with  him  to  learn 
to  draw,  not  to  colour  prints.  His  tyrant  insisted  on  his  obedience. 

'  MS.  Notes. 

1  Century  of  Painters,  \.  387  ;  and  see  Library  of  Fine  Arts,  iii.  310.         *  MS.  Notes. 


CH.  I    TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS     85 

Girtin  refused  ;  on  which  Dayes  committed  him  to  prison  as  a 
refractory  apprentice.  The  Earl  of  Essex,  hearing  of  his  imprison- 
ment, went  to  see  him,  and  saw  that  he  had  covered  the  walls  of  his 
room  with  spirited  sketches.  Pleased  with  the  young  man's  frank 
and  open  manner,  he  released  him  from  confinement  and  from  the 
tyranny  of  Dayes  by  buying  up  his  indentures ;  and  from  that  time 
to  the  day  of  Girtin's  death,  the  Earl  continued  to  be  one  of  his 
kindest  friends  and  patrons. 

We  have  seen,  however,  that  Girtin  in  these  days  was  not  above 
turning  an  honest  penny  by  '  colouring  prints.'  It  was  shortly  after 
his  pupilage  with  Dayes  that  he  was  engaged  by  Raphael  Smith  for 
this  sort  of  work.  The  occupation  was  not  quite  of  the  infantine 
kind  which  we  are  accustomed  now  to  consider  it.  It  is  true  that 
modern  children  get  an  early  knowledge  of  colour  from  so  using  their 
boxes  of  paints  ;  but  it  is  also  true  that  water-colour  art  itself  was,  in 
its  infancy,  almost  confined  to  a  similar  practice.  There  exists  a 
curious  treatise,  a  tract  of  sixty-four  octavo  pages,  '  printed  for  J. 
Peele,  at  Locke's  Head  in  Amen  Corner,  Paternoster  Row,  1731,' 
entitled  The  Art  of  Painting  and  Drawing  in  Water-Colours,  '  put 
together,'  as  the  writer  tells  us, '  after  years  of  study  and  labour,  at 
the  instance  of  a  noble  friend  for  his  instruction  '  in  the  said  art.  It 
treats  mainly  of  the  sources  and  mode  of  preparation  of  certain 
'  transparent  colours  of  every  sort.'  But  the  chief  or  only  use  to  which 
these  pigments  are  described  as  applicable,  is  the  colouring  or  tinting 
of  engravings.  One  of  the  leading  chapters  is  headed,  '  Of  colours 
for  illuminating  of  prints  in  the  best  manner,  or  of  Painting  in  Water 
Colours.'  And  the  few  practical  instructions  which  follow,  show  that 
there  is  a  certain  technique  to  be  studied  even  in  so  apparently  simple 
an  operation.  If  the  paper  be  '  pure  white,'  no  colour  is  to  be  used 
upon  it.  All  'heavy  colours,'  that  is  to  say  colours  with  much  body,  such 
as  vermilion  and  Indian  red,  will,  unless  used  in  moderation,  '  drown 
the  shades  or  strokes  of  the  engraver.'  Sometimes,  however,  adds  the 
writer,  in  a  saving  clause  of  perhaps  unintended  irony, '  they  had  better 
be  hidden  than  preserved.' '  From  this  early  colouring  of  engravings 


'  The  work  concludes  with  a  description  of  a  '  portable  case  for  colour,'  to  be  mnde  in 
ivory  with  thirty-two  circular  cavities,  for  pigments  to  use  with  gum-water,  not  unlike  in 
arrangement  the  tin  field-sketching  boxes  in  familiar  use  in  the  present  day.  But  the  writer 
has  no  idea  of  such  an  apparatus  being  used  for  landscape  after  nature.  He  merely  recom- 
mends it  to  '  such  persons  who  are  curious  in  making  observations  of  the  colours  of  flowers, 


86  LIFE  AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  n 

the  use  of  transparent  water-colour  had  been  extended,  as  we  have 
seen,  to  the  staining  and  tinting  of  grey  drawings  ;  and  when  aquatint 
came  afterwards  to  be  extensively  employed  as  an  efficient  means  of 
multiplying  such  coloured  designs  almost  in  facsimile,  the  occupation 
of  washer  became,  as  we  shall  see,  a  regular  branch  of  business,  in 
which  many  persons  were  employed  by  the  publishers  of  prints.  It  is 
not  a  bad  kind  of  drill  for  training  a  young  artist's  hand  ;  for  some 
practice  is  required  to  lay  washes  evenly  and  of  due  tone,  as  indeed  to 
do  anything  well,  down  to  so  simple  a  matter  as  turning  the  handle  of 
a  barrel  organ. 

But  Girtin,  and  Turner  with  him,  were  at  the  same  time  taking 
lessons  from  nature.  The  shores  of  the  Thames  at  Westminster, 
Lambeth,  and  Chelsea,  not  then,  or  for  very  many  years  to  come, 
bound  in  and  stiffened  by  a  granite  border,  but  irregular  and  ragged, 
with  a  garniture  of  mud-banks,  and  abounding  in  picturesque  groups 
of  stranded  barges,  floating  river-craft,  and  old  ramshackle  wharves, 
afforded  prolific  subjects  for  an  artist's  pencil.  Girtin  said  that  a 
study  he  made  of  the  steps  of  the  old  Savoy  palace  then  in  ruins  '  was 
a  lesson  from  which  he  dated  all  the  future  knowledge  he  displayed  in 
the  pictorial  representation  of  ruined  masonry.' '  Thus  they  acquired 
skill  with  the  brush,  which  got  them  other  professional  work  besides 
that  of  colouring  prints.  Between  1788  and  1790  both  Girtin  and 
Turner  were  employed  by  architects  to  wash  in  skies  and  perhaps  add 
backgrounds  as  well  as  to  lay  flat  tints.  And  so  we  find  Tom  Girtin 
at  seventeen  or  eighteen  selected  to  make  topographic  drawings  for 
Walker's  magazine,2  and  one  of  the  young  artists  at  work  at  Dr. 
Monro's. 

There  was  another  amateur  and  collector  of  landscape  drawings,  a 
very  near  neighbour  of  Dr.  Monro's,  who,  probably  following  his 
example,  allowed  young  artists  to  make  copies  from  the  works  of 
older  masters.  This  was  Mr.  John  Henderson,  who  lived  at  No.  3  or 
No  43  Adelphi  Terrace.  Both  Girtin  and  Turner  availed  themselves 
largely  of  the  privilege  so  offered  ;  and  as  the  copies  they  made,  or 

to  have  always  in  their  pocket.'  Mr.  Redgrave  {Descriptive  Catalogtie,  1 6)  points  to  the 
republication  of  this  work  in  177°  as  evidence  that  the  materials  of  water-colour  art  had  not 
improved  at  the  latter  date. 

1  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  i.  388-9. 

*  One  was  the  'Windsor,'  published  I  May,  1792,  before  mentioned  ;  the  other  was 
•Woolwich,'  published  I  May,  1793. 

'  Thornbury's  Life  of  Turner,  p.  55,  2nd  edit. 


CH.  I     TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS     87 

some  of  them,  remained  in  Mr.  Henderson's  possession,  and  have  now, 
under  his  son's  bequest,  become  national  property,  they  may  be  studied 
as  living  illustrations  of  the  early  tastes  and  tendencies  of  these  two 
artists,  and  of  the  difference  between  them. 

'  It  would  seem  that  the  processes  of  education  they  respectively 
adopted  were  the  inverse  of  one  another  ;  that  Girtin  acquired  a  style  of 
his  own  by  sketching  from  nature,  and  used  it  as  a  language  to  interpret 
the  works  of  other  artists  ;  while  Turner,  in  the  early  part  of  his  career, 
studied  the  works  of  other  artists  in  order  to  obtain  a  command  of  their 
style  and  manner,  that  he  might  apply  them  afterwards  as  he  found  occa- 
sion in  the  varied  interpretation  of  nature.  It  was  not  until  he  had  tried 
his  hand  against  every  painter  in  succession  that  he  formed  his  own 
distinctive  style.  In  the  wide  range  of  his  practice,  the  great  painter 
comprised,  absorbed,  and  finally  assimilated  all.  It  is  fair  to  assume 
that  among  the  original  artists  from  whom  he  learnt  a  lesson  was  his 
early  friend  and  companion,  Tom  Girtin. 

'  Turner  was  a  pupil  of  Malton's,  and  Girtin  of  Dayes's,  but  it 
happened  that  each  studied  for  practice  the  works  of  the  other's 
teacher.  Turner's  copies  from  Dayes  were  so  nearly  facsimiles,  that 
they  have  deceived  collectors,  whereas  Girtin's  drawings  after  Malton 
have  his  own  colour  and  handling  engrafted  upon  the  light  and  shade 
of  the  original.' ' 

'  Girtin's  drawings  made  for  Mr.  Henderson  in  or  before  I793/ 
says  Pye,2  'are,  as  far  as  outlines  go,  three  copies  of  Malton's 
engraved  views,  the  Mansion  House,  the  Royal  Exchange,  and  St. 
George's  Church.  They  are  like  Malton's  in  form  and  perspective ; 
but  in  nothing  else.  They  are  invested  with  new  effects,  being  com- 
posed alike  of  colour  and  clair-obscur,  and  can  only  be  justly  appre- 
ciated by  being  seen.  The  subjects  respectively  are  so  changed  that 
by  being  seen  in  new  dresses  beside  the  prints,  they  receive  irresistibly 
the  charm  of  fine  art.'  There  are  also  copies  by  Girtin  from  Canaietti, 
Piranesi,  Hearne,  Marlow,  and  Morland,  in  the  same  collection,  which 
are  impressed  with  like  originality.  At  Mr.  Henderson's,  Turner  is 
said  *  to  have  preferred  copying  from  Hearne,  while  Girtin  copied  from 
Canaietti  and  Piranesi.  The  biographer  of  Girtin  in  the  '  Gentleman's 
Magazine '  tells  us  that  Canaietti  was  the  first  master  that  struck  his 
attention  forcibly ;  and  his  earliest  penchant  appears  to  have  been 

1    The  Spectator,  14  Aug.  1875.  "•  MS.  Notes. 

8  Miller's  Picturesque  Weil's  hy  Turner  and  Girtin. 


88  LIFE  AND'  TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  II 

for  architectural  subjects  of  the  kind  treated  by  that  painter.  It 
might  be  added  that  the  same  feeling  is  manifested  in  the  last  work 
on  which  his  dying  hand  was  engaged — his  series  of  views  in  Paris. 
He  is  also  said  to  have  derived  much  profit  from  a  study  of  Wilson.1 

In  1794,  the  year  in  which  the  life  of  Cozens  virtually  ended, 
Girtin  had  his  first  work  at  the  Academy.  It  was  a  drawing  of  '  Ely 
Minster.'  From  that  time  till  the  year  1801,  the  last  but  one  of  his 
short  life,  he  continued  to  exhibit  annually  except  in  the  year  1796. 
He  is  said  to  have  made  a  journey  into  Wales  in  1794,  but  no  Welsh 
subject  is  named  among  these  until  1799,  when  he  sends -two  views  of 
'  Bethkellert.'  Next  year,  1795,  he  has  two  drawings,  'Warwick 
Castle  '  and  '  Peterborough  Cathedral.' 

We  also  hear  less  of  Girtin  than  of  Turner,  as  employed  by  archi- 
tects. The  latter  is  said2  to  have  been  still  engaged  in  1796  in 
supplying  their  drawings  with  pictorial  attraction.  But  Girtin,  besides 
affording  this  aid  to  professional  brethr  n,  was  beginning  to  be  in 
request  by  amateurs.  He  found  profitable  occupation  in  giving  them 
lessons,3  and  their  sketches  were  placed  in  his  hands  that  he  might 
put  in  the  appropriate  '  effects.' 

He  was  not  a  student  of  the  Academy,  but,  as  Pye  observed,4  he 
does  not  appear  to  have  been  less  conversant  with  the  elements  of  art 
than  Turner,  who  was  an  Academy  student.  For  landscape  art  was  not 
taught  in  the  schools.  Its  rules  had  not  been  formulated,  and  its 
growing  traditions  were  as  yet  possessed  by  a  few  practitioners  only. 

Girtin's  taste  and  knowledge  led  to  his  employment  in  a  capacity 
allied  to  that  which  had  given  experience  to  the  pencils  of  Cozens 
and  '  Warwick '  Smith.  He  was  taken,  not  into  Italy,  but,  what  was 
more  conducive  to  the  development  of  his  natural  style,  into  the 
mountainous  and  picturesque  regions  of  his  own  country.  He  became 
the  travelling  companion  of  Mr.  James  Moore,  F.S.A.,5  an  antiquary 
and  amateur  topographer,  to  whose  introduction  to  the  scenery  of 
Scotland  and  .Yorkshire  is  attributed  a  change  which  now  came  over 

1  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts,  hi.  317.         2  Letter  from  the  late  Mr.  Bonomi  to  John  Pye. 

8  Turner  also  gave  lessons  when  a  young  man.  '  There  are  old  people  still  living,'  says 
Thornbury,  '  who  remember  Turner  in  1795  or  1796— that  is  to  say,  when  he  was  twenty  or 
twenty-one,  and  taught  in  London,  at  Hadley  (Herts),  and  at  other  places.'  His  biographer 
is  probably  right  in  adding  :  '  He  was  too  reserved  and  too  tongue-tied  to  be  able  to  teach 
what  he  knew,  even  had  he  cared  to  disclose  his  hard-earned  secrets.' 

4  MS.  Notes. 

5  '  Girtin,  Turner,  and  Dayes  at  various  times   travelled  with   Mr.    Moore  to  execute 
drawings  for  him,  for  his  topographical  works.' — J.  J.  J. 


CH.  I    TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS    89 

his  manner  of  painting,  and  a  sudden  strengthening,  in  his  hands,  of 
the  power  of  water-colour  art.  Inspired  by  the  'dark  and  true  and 
tender '  North,  he  '  began  to  treat  mountain  and  lake  scenery  in  a 
manner  very  different  from  his  predecessors,'  imitating  the  effects  of 
'  heavy  overhanging  clouds  throwing  the  vast  mass  of  a  mountain 
which  occupied  the  whole  distance  under  a  deep  and  solemn  mass  of 
gloom.' l  A  '  daring  style  of  effect '  and  a  '  grandeur  and  originality 
of  conception  in  light  and  shadow,'  for  which  he  was  soon  to  become 
celebrated,  arose,  it  is  said,  from  a  chance  observation  of  the  solemn 
change  produced  by  twilight  in  a  scene  of  buildings,  bridge,  and  river 
in  an  '  ancient  town,'  whereof  he  had  made  a  midday  outline  under 
the  broad  sun.  Hence,  acquiring  '  a  habit  of  looking  at  Nature, 
clothed  in  her  morning  and  her  evening  robe,'  he  was  afterwards 
enabled  to  '  throw  either  garb  over  his  own  landscape  compositions 
at  his  will.' 2  He  became  '  fond  of  contrasting  cool  shadows  with 
warm  and  brilliant  lights  spread  over  the  picturesque  ruins  in  which 
he  delighted,  giving  by  these  means  an  appearance  of  sunshine  and  a 
splendour  of  effect,  startling  to  those  who  had  been  accustomed  to 
the  tamer  manner  of  the  topographers,  or  even  to  the  poetical  tender- 
ness of  the  works  of  Cozens.' 3 

Girtin  is  said  to  have  accompanied  Mr.  Moore  to  '  Peterborough, 
Lichfield,  Lincoln,  and  many  other  places  remarkable  for  their  rich 
scenery,  either  in  nature  or  architecture  ; ' 4  and  the  subjects  of  his 
drawings,  exhibited  or  engraved,  show  that  he  made  sketches  in 
various  parts  of  England  and  Wales.  It  was  probably  in  1796  that  he 
first  went  to  Scotland.  He  had  nothing  at  Somerset  House  that  year, 
and  nothing  from  his  hand  had  been  published  in  Walker's  magazine 
since  May  1793.  But  he  has  no  fewer  than  ten  drawings  in  the 
Academy  exhibition  of  1797,  two  from  Scotland,  two  from  North- 
umberland, and  six  from  York,  besides  an  elaborate  interior  of  St. 
Alban's  Church 5  which  shows  that  as  an  architectural  draftsman  he 
had  already  arrived  at  the  maturity  of  his  power. 

In  the  '  Copper  Plate  Magazine,'  volume  iii.,  with  various  dates  in 
1 797,  there  are '  Warkworth,' '  Newcastle-upon-Tyne,'  and  '  Bamborough 
Castle,'  as  well  as  '  Marlow  Bridge,'  by  Girtin,  and  also  the  following 

1  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  \.  390-3.  2  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  82. 

1  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  ubi  supra.  4  Thornbury's  Life  of  Turner,  p.  76. 

5  Formerly  in  the  possession  of  Sir  William  Tite,  and  afterwards  in  that  of  Mr.  Edward 
Cohen.  It  was  exhibited  at  the  Burlington  Fine  Arts  Club  in  1871  and  1875,  and  at  the 
Grosvenor  Gallery  in  1877-78. 


90  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF   THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  II 

plates  from  '  Sketches  by  James  Moore,  Esq.,'  viz.  '  Lincoln,' '  Duff 
House,  Bamffshire,' '  Exeter,' '  Elgin  Cathedral,'  and  '  Jedburgh  Abbey,' 
in  all  of  which,  though  Girtin's  name  does  not  appear,  there  can  be 
little  doubt  that  he  had  a  hand.  But  these  prints  of  Walker's  do 
not  enable  us  to  form  a  judgment  as  to  the  quality  of  the  original 
drawings. 

He  had  by  this  time  left  his  mother's  lodgings  in  St.  Martin's-lc- 
Grand.  In  1797  we  find  him  at  35  Drury  Lane.  The  next  year  he 
is  at  2 5  Henrietta  Street,  Covent  Garden,  and  in  1799  at  6  Long  Acre. 
Thus  Girtin,  young  as  he  was  (he  attained  his  majority  in  1796), 
became  established  as  an  artist  of  note,  and,  what  was  more  to  his 
professional  advantage,  as  a  favourite  teacher  of  water-colour  drawing. 

As  had  been  the  case  with  Gainsborough,  the  manner  of  Girtin's 
painting,  broad  in  its  generalization,  and  well  adapted  to  express  his 
conceptions  in  an  abstract  form,  had  in  it  some  salient  features  which 
attracted  a  host  of  superficial  imitators.  An  effective  opposing  of 
warm  colours  to  cold,  and  dark  tones  to  light,  and  a  unity  obtained 
by  the  sacrifice  of  detail  and  of  natural  variety,  were  all  that  con- 
stituted in  their  eyes  the  '  style '  of  Girtin.  On  the  strength,  in  part 
at  least,  of  their  imitations,  Girtin  himself  has  been  charged  with 
affectation,  and  a  tendency  to  degenerate  into  a  mannerist '  or  a 
chiqueur?  Dayes,  his  old  master,  who  was  never  cured  of  the  grudge 
he  bore  his  too  clever  pupil,  declared  that  because  '  master  Tom 
chose  to  wash  in  dirty  water,'  his  imitators  not  only  washed  in  dirty 
water  too,  but  '  in  the  very  puddle  water  which  he  had  made  more 
dirty.'  And  when,  shortly  before  Girtin's  death,  a  portfolio  of  crude 
works  by  a  disciple  of  the  school  was  placed  before  Dayes  for 
approval,  he  persisted  in  holding  them  up  to  ridicule  as  the  result  of 
an  application  of  '  the  blue  bag.' 3 

It  is  not  to  be  inferred,  however,  from  the  above  remarks,  that 
Girtin's  teaching  was  of  a  superficial  character,  or  that  he  was  ever 
likely  to  become  a  trickster,  like  Payne.  He  '  did  not,'  says  his 
biographer  Miller,  '  flatter  amateurs,  and  pretend  to  teach  them 
secrets  for  money.'  The  Dowager  Duchess  of  Sutherland  (who  in 
Girtin's  time  was  Lady  Gower),  one  of  many  persons  whom  he 
taught  in  the  higher  ranks  of  society,  used  to  say  that  '  he  told  every  - 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  82.  *  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  i.  396. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  utii  supra. 


CH.  I     TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS     91 

thing'  to  his  favourite  pupil  Lady  Long,1  wife  of  Sir  Charles  Long, 
afterwards  Lord  Farnborough.  '  He  would  point  out  the  time  of 
the  day,  the  cast  shadows  and  particular  effect  suited  to  the  time 
and  scene  &c. — a  mode  of  teaching  far  in  advance  of  the  time.'2 

Nor  did  he  confine  the  benefit  of  his  instruction  to  the  wealthy 
dilettante,  who  paid  him  so  much  a  lesson.  His  painting-room  was 
ever  open  to  his  brother  artists,  and  he  was  always  happy  to  give 
them  the  benefit  of  his  advice  and  instruction.  Indeed,  he  was  often 
blamed  by  his  friends  for  allowing  them  to  stand  over  him  while  at 
work,  that  they  might  see  how  he  produced  his  effects.3 

It  is  perhaps  due  to  this  open  liberality  of  Girtin's  that  writers 
have  been  able  to  describe  his  technical  processes  in  considerable 
detail.  The  following  account  is  extracted  from  the  Somerset  House 
Gazette*  '  Girtin  made  his  drawings,  with  but  few  exceptions,  on 
cartridge  paper.5  He  chose  this  material  as  his  aim  was  to  procure  a 
bold  and  striking  chiaroscuro,  with  splendour  of  colour,  and  without 
attention  to  detail.'  Then,  beginning  with  the  sky : '  The  azure  spaces 
were  washed  with  a  mixture  of  indigo  and  lake,  and  the  shadows  of 
the  clouds  with  light  red  and  indigo,  Indian  red  and  indigo,  and  an 

% 

1  Pyne,  writing  in  1824,  says  that  Lady  Long,  besides  being,  like  her  husband,  a  patron 
of  the  fine  arts,  '  was  known  to  the  world  of  art '  as  having  '  a  talent  for  painting  and  draw- 
ing that  might  fairly  rank  her  with  the  professors  of  the  living  school,'  and  that  '  among  the 
admirers  of  that  lady's  topographical  drawings,  none  were  more  ardent  than  Girtin.' 
(Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  129.) 

'  J.  J.  J.  ex  relation  }.  Holland.  «  J.  J.  J.  <  Vol.  i.  pp.  66,  83,  84. 

*  '  He  was  the  first,'  says  his  biographer  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine,  'who  introduced 
the  custom  of  drawing  upon  cartridge  paper,  by  which  means  he  avoided  that  spotty  glitter- 
ing glare,  so  common  in  drawings  made  on  white  paper.'  '  It  is  said  that  the  wire-worked 
cartridge  he  loved  to  work  on  was  only  to  be  obtained  at  a  stationer's  at  Charing  Cross,  and 
was  folded  in  quires.  As  the  half-sheet  was  not  large  enough  for  his  purpose,  he  had  to 
spread  out  the  sheet,  and  the  crease  of  the  folding  being  at  times  more  absorbent  than  the 
other  parts  of  the  paper,  a  dark  blot  was  caused  across  the  sky,  and  indeed  across  the  whole 
picture  in  many  of  his  works.  This  defect  was  at  first  tolerated  on  account  of  the  great 
originality  and  merit  of  his  works,  and  gradually  gave  a  higher  value  to  those  in  which  it 
occurred,  being  considered  a  proof  of  their  originality.'  (Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters, 
'•  393-4- )  '  But,'  writes  Mr.  Papworth  (MS. )  '  in  those  days  paper  was  paper  ;  it  was  made 
of  white  linen  rags  reduced  to  pulp  by  a  badly  made  wooden  machine  which  left  it  fibrous. 
Shortly  afterwards  Mr.  Whatman  produced,  at  his  manufactory  in  Kent,  a  paper  called 
vellum  paper,  which  at  once  superseded  all  other  fabrics.  Its  texture  was  calculated  to  receive 
the  pigments  and  to  bear  out  [sic]  with  a  vigour  of  effect  that  the  wire-marked  paper  could 
never  be  brought  to  possess."  Then  'the  progress  of  science  taught  the  means  of  adulteration, 
the  use  of  materials  which  chemically  quarrel  with  each  other  and  the  colours,  and  the 
employment  of  superbly  finished  machinery  which  leaves  no  fibrous  texture.  ...  In  a  short 
period  the  damage  of  such  operations  was  felt  by  Turner,  who  found  that  his  paper  required 
preparation  ;  and  even  a  quarter  of  a  century  had  not  elapsed  before  "  old  paper  "  was 
worth  a  guinea  a  sheet  to  men  like  Harding.' 


93  LIFE  AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  II 

occasional  addition  of  lake.  The  warm  tone  of  the  cartridge  paper 
frequently  served  for  the  lights  without  tinting,  acquiring  additional 
warmth  by  being  opposed  to  the  cool  colour  of  the  azure,  and 
shadow  of  the  clouds.  .  .  .  When  he  had  accomplished  the  laying-in  of 
his  sky,  he  would  proceed  with  great  facility  in  the  general  arrange- 
ment of  his  tints,  on  the  buildings,  trees,  water,  and  other  objects. 
Every  colour  appeared  to  be  placed  with  a  most  judicious  perception 
to  effecting  a  general  union,  or  harmony.  His  light  stone  tints  were 
put  in  with  thin  washes  of  Roman  ochre,  the  same  mixed  with  light 
red  and  certain  spaces  free  from  the  warm  tints  were  touched  with 
grey,  composed  of  light  red  and  indigo,  or,  brighter  still,  with 
ultramarine  and  light  red.  The  brick  buildings  with  Roman  ochre, 
light  red  and  lake,  and  a  mixture  of  Roman  ochre,  lake  and  indigo, 
or  Roman  ochre,  madder  brown  and  indigo  ;  also  with  burnt  sienna 
and  Roman  ochre,  madder  brown  and  Roman  ochre,  and  these 
colours  in  all  their  combinations.  For  finishing  the  buildings  which 
came  the  nearest  to  the  foreground,  where  the  local  colour  and  'form 
were  intended  to  be  represented  with  particular  force  and  effect, 
Vandyck  brown  and  Cologn-earth  were  combined  with  these  tints, 
which  gave  depth  and  richness  of  tones,  that  raised  the  scale  of 
effect  without  the  least  diminution  of  harmony — on  the  contrary,  the 
richness  of  effect  was  increased  from  their  glowing  warmth,  by 
neutralizing  the  previous  tones,  and  by  throwing  them  into  their 
respective  distances,  or  into  proper  keeping.  The  trees,  which  he 
frequently  introduced  in  his  views,  exhibiting  all  the  varieties  of 
autumnal  hues,  he  coloured  with  corresponding  harmony  to  the  scale 
of  richness  exhibited  on  his  buildings.  The  greens  for  these  opera- 
tions were  composed  of  gambouge,  indigo,  and  burnt  sienna,  occa- 
sionally heightened  with  yellow  lake,  brown  pink,  and  gambouge, 
these  mixed  too  sometimes  with  Prussian  blue.  The  shadows  for 
the  trees,  with  indigo  and  burnt  sienna,  and  with  a  most  beautiful 
harmonious  shadow  tint,  composed  of  grey  and  madder  brown ; 
which,  perhaps,  is  nearer  to  the  general  tone  of  the  shadow  of  trees 
than  any  other  combinations  that  can  be  formed  with  water-colours. 
Girtin  made  his  greys  sometimes  with  Venetian  red  and  indigo, 
Indian  red  and  indigo,  and  a  useful  and  most  harmonious  series  of 
warm  and  cool  greys,  of  Roman  ochre,  indigo,  and  lake,  which,  used 
judiciously,  will  serve  to  represent  the  basis  for  every  species  of 
subject  and  effect,  as  viewed  in  the  middle  grounds  under  the 


CH.  I    TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS     93 

influence  of  that  painter's  atmosphere  so  prevalent  in  the  autumnal 
season  in  our  humid  climate ;  which  constantly  exhibits  to  the 
picturesque  eye  the  charms  of  rich  effects,  in  a  greater  variety  than 
any  country  in  Europe.'  '  His  palette,'  says  Girtin's  biographer  in 
the  '  Gentleman's  Magazine,'  '  was  covered  with  a  greater  variety  of 
tints  than  almost  any  of  his  contemporaries.' 

The  Messrs.  Redgrave '  declare  that  Girtin  was  the  first  who 
followed  out  a  procedure  the  reverse  of  that  which  had  hitherto 
prevailed — laying  in  the  whole  of  his  work  with  the  true  local  colour  of 
the  various  parts,  and  afterwards  adding  the  shadows  with  their  own 
local  and  individual  tints.  But  they  allege  that  this  was  only  quite 
at  the  end  of  his  career,  and  contend  that  in  '  his  mode  of  execution 
he  did  not  add  much  to  the  resources  of  art.'  They  consider  that 
in  1798  Turner  was  in  advance  of  Girtin  in  the  employment  of 
executive  processes. 

It  has  further  been  said  that  Girtin  was  the  discoverer  of  the  mode 
of  wiping  out  lights  in  water-colour  painting  ;  and  that  he  made  the 
discovery  by  an  accident.  The  story  is  that  '  he  spilt  some  drops  of 
water  upon  a  drawing,  and,  fearing  that  it  would  injure  the  part  upon 
which  it  fell,  took  his  handkerchief  carefully  to  sop  it  up ;  when,  the 
colour  being  softened  by  the  moisture,  it  came  away  upon  the  hand- 
kerchief, leaving  the  exact  shape  of  the  spots  of  water  white.  It 
struck  him  that  this  plan  of  getting  out  lights  might  be  applied  in 
the  progress  of  a  drawing,  and  he  used  it  with  so  much  success  that 
for  several  seasons  his  works  attracted  particular  attention  in  this 
respect.  It  was  supposed  that,  instead  of  being  taken  out  after  the 
picture  was  advanced,  they  were  stopped  out  in  the  commencement ; 
and  the  colourmen  got  up  a  preparation  which  they  sold  under  the 
name  of  '  Girtin's  Stopping-out  Mixture.' 2  Such  a  method  has, 
indeed,  been  employed  by  several  artists. 

According  to  Pyne,  the  process  of  '  taking  out  the  lights  with 
bread '  was  '  a  discovery  which  originated  with  Turner,'  whose 
'  magnificent  effects,  aided  by  this  process,  were  first  exhibited  at  the 
Royal  Academy,'  when  '  all  the  painters  were  puzzled  to  find  out  by 
what  art  he  performed  this  graphic  magic.' 3 

Mr.   Jenkins   contends   that   '  the   best   evidence  is  in  favour  of 

1   Century  of  Painters,  i.  387,  395.  2  J.  J.  J.  ex  relatione  T.  Cafe. 

•  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \.  193,  194.  The  writer  proceeds  to  lament  that  the  most  brilliant 
effects  produced  in  this  way  are  transient,  owing  to  the  fugitive  nature  of  the  colours  used 
for  glazing. 


94  LIFE  AND   TIMES    OF  THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  u 

Turner's  being  the  discoverer  of  some  mode  of  getting  out  lights." 
He  was  unable  to  detect  in  Girtin's  drawings  any  evidence  of  his 
having  adopted  the  practice.  That  painter,  he  says,  '  occasionally 
used  some  kind  of  white,  as  upon  a  large  drawing  of  the  Interior  of 
Exeter  Cathedral,  belonging  to  Miss  Miller,  not  only  upon  the 
highest  lights,  but  mixed  with  colour  in  touches  upon  the  screen.' 

But  there  was  a  third  artist  in  whose  behalf  a  claim  to  the 
honour  of  the  invention  might  be  put  in  with  perhaps  equal  plausi- 
bility. This  was  the  Yorkshire  painter,  Francis  Nicholson,  above 
mentioned.  Nicholson,  like  all  true  masters  of  our  water-colour 
school,  relied  entirely  upon  transparent  pigment  for  the  richness  and 
strength  of  his  drawings.  And  Pyne  illustrates  the  fact  by  the 
following  anecdote,  which  he  puts  into  the  mouth  of  an  informant, 
whom  he  represents  as  '  no  mean  performer  himself,'  of  a  visit  to  the 
iarl  of  Warwick's  collection.  '  On  looking  over  his  portfolios,  con- 
taining the  works  of  Sandby,  Rooker,  Cozens,  Warwick  Smith,  and 
others  of  the  water-colour  school,'  says  the  informant,  '  I  was  struck 
with  some  clever  pieces,  scenes  in  Ireland,  executed  in  body-colours 
by  Walmsley,  one  of  the  scene-painters  at  Covent  Garden  Theatre. 
The  subjects  were  highly  picturesque,  representing  rocks  and  water- 
falls, his  Lordship's  favourite  studies.  "  What  think  you  of  these  ? " 
says  my  Lord.  "  I  admire  them  much,  sir,"  answers  the  professor. 
"The  rocks  are  boldly  designed ;  but  what  I  most  admire  is  the  water, 
rolling  so  turbulently  over  its  rocky  bed.  There  is  the  advantage  of 
body-colours,  my  Lord.  You  can  put  on  the  lights  ;  now,  in  trans- 
parent water-colours,  you  must  leave  the  lights  ;  hence  you  never  can 
represent  such  scenes  with  clearness,  force,  and  spirit  united.  There 
rests  one  of  the  insurmountable  difficulties  of  that  species  of  art,  touch- 
ing the  means  for  the  faithful  imitation  of  nature."  "Now,  sir,"  replies 
Lord  Warwick,  "  this  is  what  I  expected.  Every  connoisseur,  nay 
almost  every  artist,  has  made  the  same  remarks.  But,  sir,  I  will 
surprise  you  ;  and  that,  I  trust,  most  agreeably."  His  Lordship  then 
takes  from  his  portfolio  two  large  drawings,  scenes  in  North  Wales, 
of  subjects  similar  to  those  of  Walmsley 's.  "  Marvellous  !  "  exclaims 
the  critic.  "Is  it  possible?  Can  these  be  done  in  transparent  water- 
colours?"  "Yes,  sir."  "  By  whom,  my  Lord  ?"  "  By  Francis  Nichol- 
son, a  provincial  artist,  living  in  the  neighbourhood  of  York"."  "  I 
never  heard  his  name,  my  Lord,  till  now,  but  ...  he  will  soon  be 
dtterre.  Such  a  genius  must  be  one  of  us.  The  metropolis  is  his 


CH.  I    TURNER  AND  GIRTIN  AS  STUDENTS  AND  REFORMERS    95 

sphere."  ''  Nicholson  fulfilled  the  prediction,  and  was  afterwards  long 
and  profitably  settled  in  London  among  his  confreres  of  the  brush. 

The  suggestive  nature  of  Girtin's  drawings,  so  characteristic  of  a 
true  sketch,  so  different  from  mere  imitation,  laid  them  open  to  a 
charge  of  incompleteness.  Dayes,  in  a  short,  unkind  paragraph, 
written  after  his  pupil's  death,  declares  that  they  were  '  generally  too 
slight,'  though  he  admits  them  to  be  '  the  offspring  of  a  strong 
imagination.'  Pyne  tells  us 2  that '  Girtin  is  supposed  to  have  been 
tempted  to  work  with  less  regard  to  correctness  of  form,  in  proportion 
to  the  ease  with  which  he  produced  richness  of  colour,  on  the  car- 
tridge paper,  compared  with  the  labour  of  executing  on  white  paper, 
and  to  have  become  at  last  so  enamoured  with  colouring  and  effect, 
as  to  consider  drawing  of  little  consequence  to  the  general  character 
of  a  picture,'  which  '  slovenly  aberrations  of  genius '  produced  a  bad 
effect  upon  art  through  the  imitations  of  admiring  dilettanti. 

But  others  who  knew  him  said  that  he  was  indefatigable  in  his 
profession,  and  equally  painstaking  in  the  field  and  in  the  studio,  his 
devotion  to  art  being  unbounded.  When  sketching  from  nature,  he 
would  expose  himself  to  all  weathers,  sitting  out  for  hours  in  the 
rain  to  observe  the  effect  of  storms  and  clouds  upon  the  atmosphere. 
Death  itself  was  believed  to  have  been  hastened  by  a  cold  he  caught 
while  painting  in  the  damp  air.3  He  '  usually,'  says  the  biographer 
in  the '  Gentleman's  Magazine,' '  finished  the  greater  part  of  his  drawing 
on  the  spot,'  and  '  when  he  had  made  a  sketch  at  any  place,  he  never 
wished  to  quit  it  until  he  had  given  it  all  the  proper  tints.'  But  one 
of  his  modes  of  study  on  the  Thames,  he  being  a  great  lover  of  river 
scenery,  was  to  be  carried  up  and  down  on  a  barge,  sketching  as  it 
floated  along.4  In  Miller's  Turner  and  Girtin's  Picturesque  Views 
there  is  a  woodcut  tailpiece  representing  Girtin  sketching  from 
nature.  He  sits  upon  a  three-legged  folding-stool  in  an  easy  attitude, 
his  body  thrown  back  and  his  feet  forward.  He  wears  Hessian  boots 
and  a  tall  beaver  hat,  and  seems  to  be  drawing  with  a  pencil  on  a  bit 
of  paper  folded  loosely  as  one  would  turn  back,  in  reading  it,  the 
pages  of  a  pamphlet.  This  paper  he  holds  in  his  left  hand,  which 
rests  upon  his  knee.  The  place  may  be  in  a  park,  or  by  the  Thames. 
There  is  at  the  back  a  piece  of  water  with  a  swan  upon  it. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  30.  *  Ibid.  i.  83. 

*  J-  J-  J.  ex  relatione  Miss  Hog  and  C.  Varley. 
4  Idem,  ex  rel.  T.  C.  Girtin. 


96  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF   THOMAS    GIRTIN  liK   II 

As  to  his  studio  work,  '  one  who  had  frequently  watched  his  pro- 
gress tells  us,'  say  Messrs.  Redgrave, '  that  his  finely  coloured  composi- 
tions were  wrought  with  much  study,  and  proportionate  manual 
exertion,  and  that  though  he  did  not  hesitate,  nor  undo  what  he  had 
once  done,  for  he  worked  on  principle,  yet  he  reiterated  his  tints  to 
produce  splendour  and  richness,  and  repeated  his  depths  to  secure 
transparency  of  tones,  with  surprising  perseverance.' '  He  is  also 
said  to  have  destroyed  a  vast  number  of  drawings  ;  for  if  he  made  a 
mistake  in  any  of  the  tints,  he  would  throw  the  drawing  away. 
Glover,  it  seems,  did  the  same.2  Mr.  Jenkins  remarks  that  '  no 
greater  proof  could  be  advanced  of  the  extreme  timidity  with  which 
the  early  water-colour  draftsmen  worked.  Being  unaware  of  the 
modes  since  adopted  of  taking  out  unsatisfactory  parts  of  a  drawing, 
they  considered  the  whole  spoiled  if  they  did  not '  hit  upon  the  tints 
at  once.'  This  limitation  of  means  may,  however,  have  had  the 
salutary  effect  of  enforcing  reliance  on  mastery  of  hand,  instead  of 
inducing  dependence  on  remedial  processes. 

Besides  the  employment  he  received  as  a  teacher,  Girtin  was 
encouraged  by  the  favour  of  many  noble  and  wealthy  patrons,  who 
not  only  threw  open  to  him  their  houses  and  collections  of  art 
treasures,  but  gave  work  to  his  pencil.  To  the  names  already  men- 
tioned are  to  be  added  those  of  Sir  George  Beaumont ;  Mr.  Lascelles,3 
who  noticed  him  early  and  gave  him  the  use  of  his  collection  ;  the 
Hon.  Spencer  Cowper,  '  who  had  the  largest  and  finest  collection  of 
Girtin's  drawings  of  any  gentleman  of  that  day  ; ' 4  Lord  Hardwicke  ; 
the  Earl  of  Mulgrave ;  General  Phipps ;  the  Earl  of  Buchan  ;  and, 
most  hospitable  of  all,  the  Earl  of  Harewood,  who  was  not  only  one 
of  his  earlier  patrons,  giving  him  the  advantage  of  his  society  and  of 
his  picture  gallery  to  form  his  taste  by,  but  who  had  a  room  kept  for 
him  at  Harewood  House,  where  he  lived  for  long  periods  together, 
and  made  some  of  his  most  important  drawings.5 

1  Century  of  Painters,  i.  391  ;  and  see  Library  of  Fine  Arts,  iii.  318. 

2  J.  J.  J.  ex  relatione  E.  Dorrell.  3  Gentleman's  Magazine. 
*  Miller's  Turner  and  Girtin's  Picturesque  Views.  s  J.  J.  J.  MSS. 


CH.  I  97 


CHAPTER    II 

GIRTIN    AND   HIS   COMPANIONS 

Harris  the  dealer— Girtin's  Sketching  Society— Its  rules  and  members — franeta—llis 
career — Co/man  —  As  'Thaddeus  of  Warsaw' — Old  artist  quarters — Barker — Panoramas 
— Sir  K.  K.  Porter — Battle-pieces — Girtin's  view  of  London — What  has  become  of  it? 
— Turner  takes  to  oils — Becomes  A.  R.A. 

WHILE  in  the  enjoyment  of  all  this  direct  patronage,  and  thus,  one 
would  think,  above  the  necessity  of  paying  his  court  to  the  dealers, 
it  seems  curious  that  Girtin  should  have  been  rather  inclined  to  sell 
his  works  through  their  medium  than  at  once  to  persons  who  wished 
to  possess  them.  But  such  is  said  to  have  been  the  fact,1  and  that 
many  of  his  drawings  passed  through  the  hands  of  one  Harris,  a 
frame-maker  of  Gerrard  Street,  Soho,  who  seems  to  have  found  his 
interest  in  gathering  around  him  some  of  the  choice  spirits  of  the 
artist  fraternity,  in  whom  the  Bohemian  element  was  not  wanting. 

It  is  quite  possible  that  Girtin,  with  his  sociable  nature,  may  have 
enjoyed  a  chat  at '  Jack  Harris's  tavern  club '  even,  as  alleged,  with 
'  that  wild  reprobate  Morland,' 2  but  it  is  more  agreeable  to  picture 
him  as  the  centre  of  a  social  reunion  of  a  much  more  refined  descrip- 
tion, in  which  he  certainly  took  part.  To  him  has  been  assigned  the 
credit  of  having  been  the  first  to  form  one  of  the  many  pleasant 
sketching  coteries  which  have  existed  among  artists  and  amateurs 
from  his  time  to  the  present.  It  is  not  improbable  that  with  him  the 
idea  originated  of  a  sociable  evening  meeting,  once  a  month  or  so,  of 
friends  of  artistic  proclivities,  and  more  or  less  brothers  of  the  brush, 
to  indulge  their  fancy  and  their  taste  in  a  couple  of  hours'  sketching, 
illustrating  in  friendly  rivalry  a  given  subject ;  and,  likely  enough,  it 
was  suggested  by  the  recollection  of  his  own  profitable  evenings  in 
Adclphi  Terrace.  There  have  been  larger  and  more  distinguished 
societies  of  the  same  kind,  but  we  hear  of  none  of  earlier  date  than 

1  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  i.  399.  -  Thornbury's  Life  o)  Turner,  p.  66. 

H 


98  LIFE  AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  H 

that  established  by  Girtin  and  his  comrades  a  year  or  two  before  the 
close  of  the  eighteenth  century. 

An  interesting  minute  of  the  first  meeting  of  the  society  is  pre- 
served at  the  South  Kensington  Museum  on  the  back  of  a  drawing  in 
the  water-colour  collection  there,  entitled  '  A  landscape  composition  ; 
Moonlight,'  on  which  are  inscribed  the  following  words  and  figures  : 
'  This  drawing  was  made  on  Monday,  May  the  aoth,  1799,  at  the  room 
of  Robert  Ker  Porter  of  No.  16  Great  Newport  Street,  Leicester 
Square,  in  the  very  painting  room  that  formerly  was  Sir  Joshua 
Reynolds's  and  since  has  been  Dr.  Samuel  Johnson's ;  and  for  the 
first  time  on  the  above  day  convened,  a  small  and  select  Society  of 
Young  Painters  under  the  title  (as  I  give  it)  of  the  Brothers  met 
for  the  purpose  of  establishing  by  practice  a  school  of  Historic 
Landscape,  the  subjects  being  original  designs  from  poetick  passages  ; 

Ls.  FRANCIA. 
'  The  Society  consists  of 

Worthington, 

J.  C.  Denham,  Treaf, 

R'  Kr  Porter, 

T8  Girtin, 

Ts  Underwood, 

G°  Samuel, 

&  Ls  Francia,  Secret1! 

The  above  minute  seems  to  mean  that  it  was  Francia,  not  Girtin, 
who  actually  founded  the  Society. 

This  FRANCOIS  Louis  THOMAS  FRANCIA,  which  appears  to  be 
his  full  name,  though  he  is  generally  known  as  '  Louis  Francia ' 
simply,  was  one  of  Girtin's  fellow-students  at  Dr.  Monro's.  He  was 
a  Frenchman,  believed  to  have  been  born  at  Calais  in  1772,'  and 
therefore  a  little  older  than  Girtin.  He  is  chiefly  known  in  bold, 
moving  sea-pieces,  but  he  painted  on  shore  also,  and  with  a  power, 
and  an  eye  for  broadly  massed  composition  and  mellowness  of 

1  The  usual  biographers  do  not  tell  us  much  about  '  Louis  Francia,'  and  what  little  they 
have  to  say  is  contradictory  and  not  all  to  his  credit.  Pilkington,  having  in  a  decisive  way 
placed  his  birth  within  the  present  century,  sets  him  down  as  Girtin's  pupil.  Now,  whether 
we  give  the  year  1800  to  this  century  or  to  the  last  (a  question  much  discussed  at  that  era), 
Francia  could  not,  on  the  above  theory,  have  been  quite  three  years  old  when  Girtin  died, 
and  his  precocity  must  have  equalled  that  of  the  infant  in  the  '  Bab  Ballads '  who  died  '  an 
old  dotard  '  at  the  age  of  five.  And  moreover  he  was,  as  we  see,  secretary  to  '  the  Brothers ' 
in  May  1799.  Redgrave,  more  definitely  and  with  greater  plausibility,  tells  us  that  he  was 
born  at  Calais  on  21  Dec.,  1772. 


CH.  II  GIRTIN    AND    HIS    COMPANIONS  99 

colour,  so  suggestive  of  Girtin  as  to  have  led  to  his  works  being 
sometimes  attributed  to  that  master  himself.  Among  some  manu- 
script notes  referring  to  the  time  we  are  considering,  or  a  few  years 
earlier,  which  were  furnished  to  Mr.  Jenkins  by  J.  P.  Neale,  the 
topographic  draftsman,  who  was  four  years  older  than  Girtin,  there 
is  a  casual  reference  to  Francia,  as  an  assistant  at  a  drawing-school 
in  Furnival's  Inn  Court,  Holborn,  kept  by  one  J.  C.  Barrow,  where 
John  Varley  was  also  employed.  The  writer  describes  him  as  '  a 
conceited  French  refugee,  who  used  to  amuse  the  party  with  his 
blundering  absurdities.'  In  the  list  of  subscribers  to  'The  Works 
of  the  late  Edward  Dayes,'  Svo,  1805,  is  'Lewis  Francia,  Drawing 
Master,  5  Lower  Phillimore  Place,  Kensington.'  Graves  notes  eighty- 
five  landscapes  exhibited  by  Francia  at  the  Royal  Academy  between 
1795  and  1821.  He  is  also  said  to  have  made  many  drawings  for, 
and  as  '  painter  in  water-colours  to,'  the  Duchess  of  York.  And  he 
published  the  following  books  of  prints  :  '  Studies  of  Landscapes 
imitated  from  the  originals  by  L.  Francia,  1810,'  apparently  soft- 
ground  etchings,  some  designed  by  himself  being  excellent  sugges- 
tions of  landscape  composition ;  and  four  '  Marine  Studies  by 
L.  Francia,  1822.'  Published  by  Rodwell  and  Martin,  New  Bond 
Street.  Price  2s.  in  'C.  Hullmandel's  Lithography,'  with  a  vignette 
title.  All  these  are  very  slight  sketches,  probably  for  students  to 
copy.  Francia  is  further  mentioned  by  Redgrave  as  '  a  member 
and  for  a  time  secretary  of  the  Water-Colour  Society.'  But  the  body 
referred  to  is  not  the  Society  whose  history  these  pages  are  intended 
specially  to  record.  It  was  a  rival  association  of  which  some  account 
will  be  given  in  the  sequel.  According  to  the  same  biographer  this 
artist  died  on  the  6th  of  February  1839,  at  his  native  Calais,  whither 
he  had  returned  in  1817,  having  failed  in  the  preceding  year  to  gain 
admission  to  the  ranks  of  the  Royal  Academy.1 

Messrs.  Worthington  and  /.  C.  Denham  appear  to  have  been  ama- 
teurs.    The  first  was  probably  Mr.  Thomas  Worthington,  described2 

1  A  notice  of  Louis  Francia,  peintre  de  marine,  by  E.  Le  Beau,  is  contained  in  the 
Mi-moires  de  la  Societt  d*  Agriculture  de  Calais,  and  was  printed  separately.  There  have 
been  other  artists  of  the  same  name  (besides  the  old  master  Francesco  Raibolini,  of  Bologna). 
A  son  of  Louis  Francia's  exhibited  pictures  at  the  Royal  Academy  ;  and  there  was  a  '  Belgian 
marine  painter'  of  the  name  of  Francia,  whose  death  in  September  1884  has  been  recorded. 

1  By  Chambers  Hall  in  a  letter  to  John  Pye.  He  is  called  W.  H.  Worthington  by 
Thornbury.  There  was  an  engraver  and  draftsman  of  that  name  and  those  initials  but  if 
not  born  (as  Redgrave  says)  till  about  1795,  he  could  not  be  the  man. 

H  2 


ioo  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF    THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  H 

as  'a  very  skilful  performer'  with  the  brush,  who  'had  profited  much 
by '  lessons  which  he  for  some  time  received  from  Girtin.  He  lived 
at  Halliford  on  the  Thames,  and  had  a  collection  of  that  painter's 
drawings. 

Robert  Ker  Porter  was  a  rising  artist  a  few  years  younger  than 
Girtin,  addicted  to  the  big  brush,  who  had  already  composed  'historical ' 
pictures  of  ambitious  magnitude. 

Tliomas  Underwood1  seems  to  have  been  a  half  amateur  water- 
colour  painter  who  studied  at  Dr.  Monro's,  and  George  Samuel  an 
esteemed  landscape  painter,  chiefly  in  water-colours,  who  exhibited 
at  the  Academy  from  1786  to  1823,  and  had  made  a  hit  by  a  view  of 
the  frozen  Thames  in  1789. 

The  following  were  the  ways  of  this  little  club,  which  forms  the 
model  on  which  the  simple  rules  of  later  sketching  societies  have 
usually  been  framed.  They  met  alternately  at  each  other's  houses. 
The  subject  was  generally  taken  from  an  English  poet,  and  was 
treated  by  each  in  his  own  way.  The  member  at  whose  house  they 
met  supplied  strained  paper,  colours,  and  pencils,  and  all  the  sketches 
of  the  evening  became  his  property.  They  met  at  six  o'clock  and  had 
tea  or  coffee,  worked  till  ten,  and,  after  a  plain  supper,  separated  at 
midnight.2 

Thornbury  tells  us  that  the  members  were  ten  in  number,  adding 
to  the  seven  names  recorded  by  Francia,  three  more,  which,  if  cor- 
rectly given,  would  be  Augustus  Wall  Callcott,  P.  S.  Murray,  and 
John  Sell  Cotrnan?  Callcott,  like  Ker  Porter,  was  afterwards  knighted, 
when  he  became  a  distinguished  painter  and  a  Royal  Academician. 
Like  him  also,  he  had  seen  a  few  less  summers  than  Thomas  Girtin. 
At  this  time  young  Callcott  was  gradually  deserting  the  sister  art  of 
music  to  try  his  hand  at  portraiture,  his  true  bent  of  landscape  not 
having  yet  declared  itself.  It  is  more  than  possible  that  his  evening 
amusement  in  Tom  Girtin's  genial  company  had  something  to  do 

1  Probably  the  '  R.  T.   Underwood  '  mentioned  in  Redgrave's  Dictionary.     Thornbury 
calls  him  '  S.  R.   Underwood.'     There  is  a  plate  of  '  Roche  Rocks  and  Chapel,  Cornwall,' 
by  'J.   R.   Underwood,'  in  Beauties  of  England  and  Wales,  ii.  517,  dated   1802.     In  Dr. 
Percy's  Sale  Catalogue  he  is  'T.  R.  Underwood.' 

2  Thornbury's  Life  of  Turner,  66  ;  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts,  iii.  316. 

*  In  the  late  Dr.  Percy's  collection  of  drawings,  sold  at  Christie's  in  April  1890,  was  a 
set  of  seven  of  the  subject,  An  Ancient  Castle,  by  Callcott,  Cotman,  Girtin,  Murray,  Porter, 
Samuel,  and  Underwood.  It  is  said  that  Turner  refused  to  join  the  society  because  the  hnst 
was  allowed  to  have  the  drawings  for  his  own.  (See  '  Thomas  Girtin,'  by  F.  G.  Kitton,  in 
the  Art  Journal  for  Nov.  1887.) 


CH.  II  GIRTIN   AND   HrS   COMPANIONS  lot 

with  its  recognition.  Murray  was,  it  is  believed,  one  more  amateur 
But  the  third  additional  name  demands  a  fuller  notice.  He  was 
another  of  Dr.  Monro's  clients,  and  one  of  the  many  who  became  dis- 
tinguished as  a  professional  artist  in  after  life. 

JOHN  SELL  COTMAN  was  also  Girtin's  junior,  and  must  have 
been  one  of  the  youngest  members  of  the  sketching  club.  In  a  yet 
distant  chapter  he  will  have  to  be  dealt  with  as  an  Associate  of  the 
Water-Colour  Society.  At  the  time  now  referred  to,  he  was  a  strug- 
gling student,  who  had  just  shaken  himself  free  of  the  paternal  draper's 
shop  life  at  Norwich,  under  an  artistic  impulse  not  to  be  controlled. 

Some  of  his  early  adventures  in  London,  while  trying  to  live  by 
his  pencil,  have  been  recorded,  doubtless  with  some  embellishment, 
by  a  once  well-known  pen.  Ker  Porter  used,  not  unfrequently,  to 
bring  his  sister  Jane  to  the  meetings  of  the  sketching  club,  whereat 
she  was  sometimes  permitted  to  select  themes  for  the  evening's  draw- 
ings.1 It  is  said  that  Cotman  related  to  her  these  incidents  of  his  life, 
and  that  she  afterwards  embodied  them  in  that  of  the  hero  of  her  first 
romance,  Thaddeus  of  Warsaw,  published  in  i8o3-2  There  she  re- 
lates how  Thaddeus  (an  imaginary  descendant  of  Sobieski,  whose 
character  she  based  on  that  of  Kosciuszko 3),  being  an  exile  in  England 
after  the  subjugation  of  Poland,  and  finding  himself  penniless,  had 
recourse  to  drawing  in  order  to  raise  the  needful.  For  '  Thaddeus  of 
Warsaw '  read  '  Cotman  of  Norwich,'  and  the  story  is  his,  though  the 
aristocratic  traits  of  character  introduced  are  far  from  being  appro- 
priate. '  He  found,'  writes  the  novelist,  '  that  his  sole  dependence 
must  rest  on  his  talents  for  painting.  Of  this  art  he  had  always  been 
remarkably  fond  ;  and  his  taste  easily  perceived  that  there  were  many 
drawings  exhibited  for  sale  much  inferior  to  those  which  he  had 
executed  for  mere  amusement.  He  decided  at  once  ;  and  purchasing 
.  .  .  pencils  and  Indian  ink,  he  set  to  work.'  With  these  materials 
he  executes  half  a  dozen  drawings,  '  recollections  of  scenes  in  Ger- 
many,' and  takes  them  to  a  print-shop  in  Great  Newport  Street/ 
where  a  dealer,  declaring  such  things  to  be  mere  drugs,  offers  him 

1  Thornbury's  Life  of  Turner,  68.  2  J.  J.  J.  MSS.  ex  relatione  Mr.  J.  B.  Tootal. 

3  Thaddeus  Kosciuszko  lived  in  what  had  been  Hogarth's  house,  the  south-east  corner  of 
Leicester  Square,  where  Archbishop  Tenison's  school  now  stands.  (Hare's  Walks  in 
London,  ii.  127.) 

'  Henry  Richter,  who  was  born  in  Great  Newport  Street  in  1772,  told  Mr.  Jenkins  that, 
in  his  early  days,  this  was  the  only  street  in  London  in  which  there  was  a  prinUeller's. 


loz  LIFE  AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  UK.  n 

a  guinea  for  the  six,  but  so  offends  his  dignity  by  calling  him  a  '  con- 
ceited dauber,'  that  he  walks  off  in  high  dudgeon  with  the  roll  of 
drawings  under  his  arm.  Reduced  to  greater  necessity,  he  afterwards 
goes  again  to  the  same  street,  and  offers  the  drawings  for  a  guinea  at 
another  shop  there,  where  a  more  conscientious  dealer  not  only  buys 
them  at  once,  but  requests  him  to  furnish  six  more  every  week.  How 
much  of  the  experiences  of  the  imaginary  Count  Sobieski  are  to  be 
placed  to  the  credit  of  this  excellent  painter  of  the  Norwich  school,  it 
is  impossible  to  say,  but  there  is  at  any  rate  some  historic  reality  in 
the  scene  wherein  the  authoress  lays  this  portion  of  her  plot.  Her 
pages  take  us  back  to  the  little  artists'  quarter  about  Leicester  Square 
and  Covent  Garden,  as  it  existed  in  the  days  of  her  own  young-lady- 
hood, where  the  Porters  and  Girtin  and  many  of  their  painter  friends 
lived  during  the  last  quarter  of  the  eighteenth  century. 

It  is  still  possible  to  trace  some  of  their  familiar  haunts ;  but  the 
district  has  been  carved  up  for  wider  streets  ;  old  sites  are  overlaid 
with  model  lodging  houses,  new  theatres  and  music-halls,  bigger 
shops,  art  galleries,  and  co-operative  stores ;  and  its  former  outlines 
are  almost  blotted  out.  Even  the  name  '  Trafalgar  Square '  would 
have  had  no  meaning  in  the  days  here  spoken  of.  The  year  1794, 
during  the  hard  winter  whereof  Miss  Porter  brings  her  noble  refugee 
to  the  Hummums  in  Covent  Garden,  was  known  in  naval  annals  by 
an  earlier  triumph  than  Nelson's,  that  of  Admiral  Lord  Howe,  on  its 
'  glorious  First  of  June.'  '  St.  Martin's  noble  church,'  she  says,  '  was 
then  the  centre  of  the  east  side  of  a  long,  narrow,  and  somewhat  dirty 
lane  of  mean  houses,  particularly  in  the  end  below  the  church. 
Charing  Cross  with  its  adjoining  streets  showed  nothing  better  than 
plain  tradesmen's  shops  ;  and  it  was  not  until  we  saw  the  Admiralty 
and  entered  the  Horse  Guards  that  anything  presented  itself  worthy 
of  the  great  name  of  London.' ' 

In  1798  Girtin  was  living,  as  before  stated,  at  25  Henrietta  Street, 
Covent  Garden.  Close  by,  on  the  south,  between  that  street  and 
Maiden  Lane,  lay  Hand  Court,  where  Turner  lurked  within  his 
modest  studio.  Porter  had  removed  from  Bedford  Street  (No.  38), 
where  he  was  in  1794,  just  round  the  corner  westward,  to  16  Newport 
Street,  the  very  street  in  which  Cotman  (or  Count  Sobieski) 
found  the  first  market  for  his  drawings.  It  is  a  dirty  little  back  street 
now  (if  indeed  it  exists  at  all),  nearly  lost  among  new  buildings,  but 
1  Thaddeus  of  Warsaw,  edit.  1831,  p.  no«. 


CH.  II  GIRTIN   AND   HIS   COMPANIONS  103 

at  that  time  it  formed  part  of  the  nearest  coachway  from  Lincoln's 
Inn  to  Piccadilly.  Somewhat  further  on  is  Lisle  Street,  where,  at  the 
large  house  fronting  Leicester  Street,  Leicester  Square,  had  been 
exhibited,  in  1781,  the  Eidophusikon  of  Loutherbourg ;  and  to  the 
north  whereof  is  Gerrard  Street,  haunted  with  the  shades  of  Jack 
Harris  and  the  literary  and  artistic  frequenters  of  the  old  '  Turk's 
Head.'  The  Cranbourn  Street  (or  '  Alley ')  where  Hogarth  served 
his  apprenticeship  to  a  silversmith's  engraver,  had  not  yet,  nor  long 
after,  given  place  to  the  thoroughfare  which  now  bears  that  name  ; 
and  Garrick  Street  is  of  still  more  recent  date.  The  direct  communica- 
tion between  Covent  Garden  and  Leicester  Square  was  by  footways 
through  a  labyrinth  of  paved  courts,  some  of  which  still  exist.  West- 
ward of,  and  not  quite  in  a  line  with  Great  Newport  Street,  lies  (or 
lay)  Little  Newport  Street ;  and  there,  at  No.  I,  resided  at  one  time 
(possibly  at  this)  our  painter's  younger  brother  John,  who  carried  on 
business  as  a  letter  and  heraldic  engraver,  and  was  employed  in  that 
capacity  as  assistant  at  the  Bank  of  England.  From  the  point  of 
junction  of  the  two  Newport  Streets,  there  still  runs,  or  very  lately 
ran,  northward,  a  small  street  called  Porter  Street  (whether  named  or 
not  from  the  family  above  mentioned,  this  deponent  cannot  say),  and 
southward,  parallel  to  St.  Martin's  Lane,  and  between  it  and  Leicester 
Square,  one  out  of  many  streets  in  central  London  called  Castle 
Street.  Formerly  it  extended  to  Charing  Cross,  but  it  is  now  cur- 
tailed by  the  National  Gallery.1  On  the  west  side  of  Castle  Street 
lived  John  Hunter,  the  great  comparative  anatomist ;  and  nearly 
opposite,  at  No.  28,  another  of  the  little  circle  of  artist  friends  in 
which  Tom  Girtin  moved. 

This  was  HENRY  ASTON  BARKER,  a  painter  without  mention  of 
whose  name  and  life's  work  no  complete  account  can  be  given  of  the 
development  of  that  topographic  art  upon  which  our  water-colour 
school  was  originally  based,  and  which  in  the  days  of  its  earlier 
maturity  still  constituted  its  main  support.  His  father,  Robert 
Barker,  has  the  credit  of  inventing,  as  well  as  founding,  in  1793,  the 
popular  exhibition  in  the  north-east  corner  of  Leicester  Square,  well 
remembered  as  one  of  the  delights  of  their  youth  by  elders  of  the 
living  generation,  under  the  name  of '  the  Panorama.' 

Since  this  paragraph  was  written,  Porter  Street,  even  Castle  Street  itself,  and  nearly 
all  that  it  inherited,  have  dissolved,  to  make  room  for  Charing  Cross  Road. 


104  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF   THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  II 

The  succession  of  these  wondrous  cylindric  views,  in  the  centre 
whereof  the  spectator  stood,  as  one  transported,  by  a  genius  of  Araby, 
into  some  distant  land,  or  seemed  encompassed  by  the  reality  of  a 
scene  which  he  had  already  striven  in  vain  to  visualize  in  his  mind's 
eye,  was  for  a  long  series  of  years  an  equal  source  of  pleasure  and 
profitable  instruction  to  countless  persons  of  all  ages. 

Although,  as  already  mentioned,  the  idea  of  a  continuous  picture, 
including  the  whole  circle  of  the  horizon,  is  said  to  have  occurred  to 
Sir  George  Beaumont  when  he  saw  Barret's  wall-decorations  at 
Norbury  Park,  and  to  have  even  been  put  by  him  to  an  experimental 
test,  it  was  to  Robert  Barker,  who  conceived  a  similar  idea  indepen- 
dently, that  the  public  were  eventually  indebted  for  this  interesting  kind 
of  exhibition.  But  his  younger  son,  Henry  Aston  Barker,  was  his 
principal  assistant  in  the  execution  of  the  scheme.  It  was  he  who 
went  out  sketching,  at  home  and  abroad,  and  virtually  he  who 
designed  all  the  earlier  panoramic  views. 

Young  Barker  was  not  more  than  a  year  older  than  Girtin.  He  had 
come  to  London  from  Scotland  in  or  shortly  before  1789,  with  his 
father  (an  Irishman  of  county  Meath),  and  they  brought  with  them  a 
view,  representing  Edinburgh  from  Calton  Hill,  with  Holyrood  House 
in  the  foreground.  It  had  already  been  exhibited  in  that  city  and  in 
Glasgow,  and  had  excited  much  interest  as  a  proof  that  it  was 
possible  to  depict  a  portion  of  a  scene  embracing  more  than  sixty 
degrees  of  the  horizon.  It  was  not,  indeed,  a  complete  panorama  in 
the  true  sense  of  the  word,  for  it  included  no  more  than  one-half  of 
the  entire  circle ;  but  all  the  difficulties  of  perspective  had  been  sur- 
mounted. The  sketches  for  this  picture  had  been  made  by  Henry 
Aston  Barker,  then  a  lad  of  about  fourteen ;  and  his  father,  who 
had  invented  a  mechanical  system  of  perspective,  and  taught  that 
art  in  Edinburgh,  had  pieced  the  sketches  together  and  adapted 
them  to  a  concave  surface.  Mr.  Barker  met  with  liberal  encourage- 
ment from  a  Scotch  nobleman  (believed  to  have  been  Lord  Elcho, 
son  of  the  Earl  of  Wemyss),  and,  on  coming  to  London,  was 
thereby  enabled  to  exhibit  this  picture  in  a  large  room  at  No.  28 
Haymarket. 

He  placed  his  son  Henry  in  the  schools  of  the  Royal  Academy, 
where  he  and  Turner  and  Robert  Ker  Porter '  are  said  to  have  been 

1  See  an  account  of  '  Bob  Porter '  in  the  schools,  insisting  on  adding  a  helmet  and  sword 
to  the  Gladiator  (Somerset  House  Gazette,  \.  364). 


CH.  II  GIRTIN   AND   HIS   COMPANIONS  105 

'great  companions  and  confederates  in  boyish  mischief.'  Henry 
Barker  is  moreover  reported  to  have  had  a  boyish  attachment  to  his 
friend  Porter's  lively  and  romantic  sister,  Miss  Jane,  the  authoress 
above  quoted.  But  Barker  was  also  fond  of  work.  He  was  an  early 
riser  like  Turner,  and  used  to  emulate  the  industry  of  John  Hunter,1 
over  the  way,  in  Castle  Street.  Get  up,  however,  as  early  as  he 
would,  there  the  first  thing  he  always  saw  was  the  great  anatomist, 
poring  over  his  preparations. 

The  success  of  their  '  Edinburgh '  induced  the  Barkers  to  execute 
another  painting  of  the  kind  in  London,  and  this  time  to  creep  round 
another  quarter  of  the  circle.  For  this,  Henry  Barker  made  a  number 
of  drawings 2  from  the  top  of  the  Albion  Mills,  a  lofty  structure  at  the 
eastern  corner  of  the  Surrey  side  of  Blackfriars  Bridge.3  When 
finished,  this  three-quarter  circle  picture  was  exhibited  in  1792,  in  a 
rough  building,  apparently  not  erected  for  the  purpose,  at  the  back  of 
Barker's  house  in  Castle  Street,  and  'abutting  on  the  Apollonicon 
Rooms '  in  St.  Martin's  Lane.  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  went  to  see  the 
picture  there,  and  praised  it  highly.4  It  only  remained  to  complete 
the  whole  circumference  of  the  horizon  ;  but  for  that  it  was  necessary 
to  have  a  cylindrical  room  specially  adapted  to  the  purpose.  This 
was  effected  in  the  following  year,  when  the  house  in  Leicester  Square, 
with  its  two  circles  (to  which  a  third  was  added  long  afterwards),  was 
erected  by  subscription,  from  the  designs  of  Robert  Mitchell,  of 
Newman  Street,5  and  opened,  by  Robert  Barker,  under  the  name, 
then  first  adopted,  of  ITANnPAMA.  The  pictures  of  Edinburgh 
and  London  had  been  executed  in  distemper  ;  but  the  paintings  here 
were  in  oil.  On  the  death  of  his  father,  in  1806,  Henry  Barker  carried 
on  the  concern.  He  afterwards  went  to  live  in  West  Square,  St 
George's  Fields,  Southwark,  where  he  painted  his  panorama  pictures 
in  a  wooden  rotunda.  He  also  travelled  much  about  the  world, 
making  sketches  for  them.  He  died  in  i856.6 

1  John  Hunter's  house  in  Leicester  Square,  where  he  first  began,  in  1785,  to  collect  his 
museum,  was  next  to  the  Alhambra,  to  the  south,  between  it  and  Hogarth's.  (Hare's  Walk 
in  London,  ii.  127.)  The  back  may  have  looked  upon  Castle  Street. 

-  These  drawings  were  at  the  same  time  etched  by  H.  A.  Barker,  the  shading  was 
coarsely  aquatinted  by  F.  Birnie,  and  the  whole  were  published  in  six  sheets,  about  22 
inches  by  17.  They  are  dated  1792  and  1793. 

3  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  152. 

4  J.  J.  J.  ex  relatione  J.  Mascy  Wright. 

5  He  published  an  account,  with  delineations  of  the  building,  in  1800. 

8  For  many  of  the  above  facts  see  obituary  notice  of  II.  A.  Barker  in  the  Gentleman'} 
Magazine. 


106  LIFE  AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  EK.  n 

These  comprehensive  landscapes  of  their  friend  Barker's  seem  to 
have  raised  in  the  hearts  both  of  Porter  and  Girtin  a  desire  to  execute 
works  of  a  similar  kind.  The  former,  some  years  later,  applied  the 
plan  to  '  historical '  painting,  and  exhibited  at  the  Lyceum l  three 
large  battle-pieces,  the  first  (in  1799)  representing  the  storming  of 
Scringapatam,  which  was  followed  by  the  siege  of  Acre,  and  (in  1801) 
the  battle  of  Alexandria.  These  were  carried  round  three  quarters 
of  the  circle.  Another  was  the  battle  of  Agincourt. 

Battle-pieces  have  always  been  favourite  subjects  with  the  painters 
of  panoramas.  Barker's  invention  was  introduced  into  Paris,  where 
a  panorama,  in  a  building  erected  by  the  American  engineer  Robert 
Fulton  (the  inventor  of  the  steamboat)  was  opened  in  1779  with  a 
view  of  the  Place  de  la  Concorde.  Other  views  of  the  kind  having 
proved  very  attractive  in  that  city,  the  Emperor  Napoleon  attempted, 
as  a  means  of  making  himself  popular,  to  establish  panoramas  in 
every  quarter,  exhibiting  the  victories  of  the  French  armies,  and  he 
'  gave  orders  to  his  architect,  Cellerier,  to  draw  out  the  plans  of  seven 
panoramas  to  be  erected  in  the  then  open  space  now  filled  up  by 
the  Palais  de  1'Industrie,  but  the  military  events  of  1812  turned  his 
attention  from  the  design.'2  Even  Barker's  panorama  in  Leicester 
Square  opened  with  a  view  of  the  '  Grand  Fleet  at  Spithead.'  This 
kind  of  exhibition  has  been  revived  in  recent  years  in  Paris  and  in 
London,  and  the  pictures  have  again  been  in  most  cases  representa- 
tions of  scenes  in  modern  warfare,  a  noteworthy  exception  being  that 
of  Niagara,  now  exhibiting  at  Westminster,  which  gives  an  adequate 
idea  of  what  the  old  cylindrical  pictures  were. 

Girtin's  so-called  '  panorama '  was  of  the  peaceful  order.  It  was 
one  of  '  London,'  said  to  have  been  painted  in  his  twenty-third  year,3 
that  is,  in  1797-8,  and  so  nearly  the  same  in  subject  and  other  circum- 
stances as  Barker's,  that  much  confusion  has  arisen  between  them. 
Like  his,  it  was  taken  from  the  Surrey  side  of  the  river  and  the  foot 
of  Blackfriars  Bridge,  from  the  top  either  of  the  Albion  Mills,  or 
(according  to  another  account) 4  Sir  Ashton  Leaver's  Museum.  Its 
horizon  is  said  to  have  been  semicircular.  We  are  not  told  what  its 

1  The  Lyceum  was  a  great  exhibition  room  in  the  Strand,  where  the  theatre  of  that  name 
now  stands.  It  was  originally  built  for  the  accommodation  of  the  Incorporated  Society  of 
Artists,  which  removed  thither  from  Spring  Gardens  in  1773.  See  below. 

1  Galignanfs  Messenger,  13  September,  1881. 

3  Redgrave's  Century  of  Painters,  399. 

4  John  Pye's  MSS. 


CH.  It  GIRTIN   AND   HIS   COMPANIONS  107 

size  was.  It  must,  however,  have  had  a  very  real  look,  and  have 
contained  figures ;  for  a  writer  in  Notes  and  Queries l  says  of  it :  'I 
remember  when  a  boy  going  to  see  that  panorama.  I  was  struck 
with  the  baker  knocking  at  the  door  in  Albion  Place,  and  wondered 
the  man  did  not  move.1  In  one  of  these  views  of  London  (it  is  not 
clear  whether  Girtin's  or  Barker's)  there  was  represented  on  the  Thames 
the  Lord  Mayor's  procession  by  water  to  Westminster,  which  used 
then  to  take  place  on  the  gth  of  November.  As  there  is  no  such 
incident  in  Barker  and  Birnie's  prints,  though  boats  are  there  intro- 
duced on  the  river,  the  probability  is  that  it  was  Girtin  who  made  a 
feature  of  the  City  barges. 

Girtin's  '  London  '  was  exhibited  in  Spring  Gardens,  and  on  view 
there  at  the  time  of  his  death.2  After  that  event  it  appears  to  have 
lain  rolled  up  in  a  loft  over  a  carpenter's  shop  in  St.  Martin's  Lane 
(Thornbury  says,  at  an  architect's  named  Howitt),  and  'about  the 
year  1825'  to  have  been  sold  by  the  second  husband3  of  Girtin's 
widow,  one  Mr.  Cohen,  to  '  some  persons  in  Russia,'  or  to  '  a  Russian 
nobleman,'  who  carried  it  off  to  that  country.  According  to  one 
statement,4  it  was  exhibited  in  St.  Petersburg.  The  picture  itself  may 
turn  up  again,  some  fine  day  ;  but  in  the  mean  time  there  are  materials 
from  which  a  fair  conjecture  may  be  made  as  to  what  it  is,  or  was, 
like.  The  outline  of  the  work  is 5  in  the  possession  of  Miss  Miller ; 
and  several  of  the  original  studies  for  it, '  very  admirably  drawn  and 
painted,' 6  are  in  the  collection  of  Girtin's  drawings  formed  by  the  late 
Mr.  Chambers  Hall,  and  now  in  the  British  Museum. 

It  has  been  stated  that  Girtin's  '  panorama  '  was  executed  in  oil. 
But  an  examination  of  these  studies,  when  in  Mr.  Hall's  possession, 
led  Mr.  Jenkins  to  doubt  the  correctness  of  this  assertion.  They  are, 
he  writes,  'splashed  with  colour,  which  Mr.  Hall  stated  to  be  dis- 
temper. They  have  all  the  appearance  of  having  been  soiled  while 
being  used  in  the  progress  of  painting  the  panorama.  This  circum- 
stance '  he  regards  as  throwing  '  some  doubt  upon '  the  above 
statement, '  and  taken  in  conjunction  with  the  fact  that  Girtin  painted 
some  scenes  for  a  pantomime  at  Covent  Garden  and  consequently 

1  First  series,  vol.  iv.  p.  21.  *  Obituary  notice  in  the  Gentleman's  Magazine. 

'  ].  J.  J.  MSS.  ex  relatione  Miss  Hog.  *  Pye's  MSS. 

5  Or  was.     See  Catalogue  of  the  Girtin  Exhibition  at  the  Burlington  Fine  Arts  Club, 
'875  (page  7  «).  to  which  collection  Miss  Miller  contributed  many  fine  drawings  of  the 
master's. 

6  I-  J.  J- 


108  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF    THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  II 

must  have  been  acquainted  with  the  use  of  distemper'  leads  him  to 
consider  it  '  probable  that  the  panorama  was  also  executed  in  that 
material,'  the  quality  of  which  is,  in  that  writer's  opinion,  '  so  much 
better  suited  for  the  purpose  than  the  glare  of  oil.' 

Girtin  did,  it  is  true,  at  the  latter  end  of  his  life,  paint  a  few,  but 
very  few,  pictures  in  oil,  besides  the  doubtful  panorama.  His  son 
told  Mr.  Jenkins  that  there  were  only  two,  and  Miss  Hog,  an  intimate 
friend  of  the  painter's  wife,  further  said  that  two  large  views  by  him 
of  Harewood  House  were  in  oil.  But  the  last  picture  he  exhibited, 
namely  '  Bolton  Bridge,  Yorkshire,' at  the  Royal  Academy  in  1801, 
was  in  that  medium.  It  was  much  noticed  at  the  time,1  and  is 
mentioned  in  Mr.  Redford's  List  of  Art  Sales,  as  having  been  sold 
in  1803,  for  257.  4s.  It  is  possible,  as  has  been  alleged,  that  Girtin 
painted  these  oil-pictures  with  a  view  of  gaining  admission  to  the 
Royal  Academy,  where  the  claims  of  water-colour  draftsmen  to  be 
regarded  as  '  painters '  were  not  recognized. 

His  early  companion  and  fellow-student,  Turner,  though  still 
supporting  himself  by  making  topographic  drawings,  and  at  the 
same  time  continuing  to  develop  the  resources  of  water-colour  art,  had 
for  some  years  past  been  exhibiting  oil-pictures  as  the  means  by 
which  he  hoped  to  achieve  fame  as  a  great  artist  This  ambition  was 
doomed  to  be  for  a  long  time  bitterly  disappointed  ;  but  he  at  least 
obtained  by  them  his  admission  to  the  Academy,  as  an  Associate,  in 
1 799  ;  in  which  year  he  set  up  his  studio  in  a  more  genteel  quarter, 
at  64  Harley  Street,  and  left  for  ever  the  old  historic  neighbourhood 
about  Covent  Garden. 

1  Gentleman's  Magazine. 


CH.  HI  109 


CHAPTER   III 
THE  LAST  YEARS  OF   GIRTIN 

Girtin's  marriage —Moves  to  St.  George's  Row — Studio  frequented  — Playful  letters— Fatal 
illness — Goes  to  France— His  Paris  sketches — Etched  and  aquatinted — Originals  at 
Woburn — Pantomime  scenes  — Barker  in  Paris— Girtin's  death  and  burial— His  private 
character — Aspersed  by  Dayes — Defended  by  family — Contrasted  with  Turner's. 

THE  time  was  near  at  hand  for  Girtin,  too,  to  make  a  westward 
move.  On  the  i6th  of  October,  1800,  he  took  to  himself  a  wife.  His 
bride  was  Miss  Mary  Ann  Borrett,  only  daughter  of  Phineas  Borrctt, 
an  eminent  goldsmith  of  good  property,  and  a  liveryman  of  the 
Goldsmiths'  Company,  who  resided  at  No.  1 1  Scott's  Place,  Islington. 
They  were  married  by  license  at  the  church  of  St.  George's,  Hanover 
Square.  The  entry  in  the  parish  register  states  that  the  bride  was  a 
minor,  and  that  the  marriage  was  '  with  consent  of  her  father,'  who 
together  with  '  Ann  Borrett '  sign  their  names  as  witnesses  of  the 
ceremony.  The  '  happy  pair '  went  to  reside  at  St.  George's  Row,1 
only  a  few  doors  from  old  Paul  Sandby's. 

That  veteran  painter  was  now  about  seventy-five.  During  the  whole 
of  Girtin's  life  he  had  been  living  there ;  and  there  he  was  to  live  on 
until  seven  years  after  Girtin's  death,  when  he  died  also.  He  had  a 
studio  at  the  back,  abutting  on  the  burial  ground  behind,  where  his 
body  is  interred.2  But  the  day  of  Sandby's  art  was  at  length  gone 
by.  There  was  a  greater  attraction  than  any  he  could  now  offer,  in 
the  sight  of  our  lively  and  dashing  young  painter  at  his  work  in  the 
studio  close  at  hand.  Girtin's  house  was  the  resort  of  many  persons 
of  distinction  in  society,  and  all  who  came  were  shown  up  into  the 
painting-room.  Here,  surrounded  by  callers,  the  artist  would  go  on 

1  At  No.  2,  or  according  to  Pye  '  No.  9.'     (MSS.) 

2  There  was  exhibited  at  the  Nottingham   Museum  in   1884  a  view  by  Sandby  of  the 
cemetery  in  which  his  studio  appears.     A  bistre  drawing  by  Girtin  of  St.  George's  Row, 
formerly  in  Dr.  Percy's  collection,  is  now  at  the  British  Museum.     The  house  with  a  shade 
over  the  window  was  Sandby's.     (Percy  Catalogue.) 


no  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF    THOMAS    GIRTIN  P,K.  n 

with  his  work,  chatting  and  telling  anecdotes  at  the  same  time ; 
liberal,  as  on  all  occasions,  of  his  knowledge  of  art.  Lady  Gowcr, 
and  doubtless  Lady  Long,  were  frequent  visitors.  The  young  man's 
father-in-law,  with  a  closer  eye  than  his  to  business,  was  inclined  to 
complain  of  the  professional  imprudence  of  permitting  artists  so 
frequently  to  see  him  paint  But  Girtin's  art  was  not  of  the  kind  that 
is  fabricated  in  studios. 

He  still  made  long  visits  to  the  country,  and  spent  much  of  his 
time  at  Lord  Essex's  and  Lord  Harewood's.  During  absence  from 
home  he  used  to  write  pretty  and  playful  letters  to  his  wife  and  her 
mother,  often  in  an  easy  kind  of  verse,  and  very  witty  and  amusing. 
He  put  scraps  of  poetry,  too,  under  his  drawings.  These  letters  his 
widow  unfortunately  destroyed,  burning  them  by  mistake,  with  a  box 
of  others,  at  the  time  of  her  second  marriage. 

All  this  happy  life  was  soon,  however,  to  come  to  an  end  ;  for  a 
fatal  illness,  which  terminated  Girtin's  short  career,  had  begun  to 
develop  rapidly.  Whether  or  not  he  was,  as  it  has  been  reported, 
afflicted  with  asthma  or  consumption,  the  disease  which  finally  caused 
his  death  is  believed  to  have  been  ossification  of  the  heart.  His 
health  had  visibly  been  failing  since  the  year  before  his  marriage  ; 
and  in  1801  his  condition  became  so  alarming  that  a  change  of 
climate  was  deemed  necessary.  Lord  Harewood,  writing  to  him  on 
the  2/th  of  June,  about  some  drawings  which  he  had  been  making  of 
Harewood,  says  :  '  I  received  your  letter  this  morning,  and  am  sorry 
to  hear  that  you  are  under  the  necessity  of  going  to  another  climate 
for  the  benefit  of  your  health.'  He  was  advised  to  try  the  Cape  of 
Good  Hope  or  Madeira  ;  but  his  illness  gaining  upon  him,  many  of 
his  friends  persuaded  him  not  to  go  so  far  away,  and  he  went  no 
farther  than  Paris. 

For  this  an  opportunity  now  offered  itself.  The  preliminaries  of 
the  Peace  of  Amiens  were  signed  on  the  ist  of  October,  1801,  and 
that  occasion  of  a  visit  to  the  Continent,  which  had  been  closed  during 
the  time  of  war,  was  embraced  by  him,  as  it  was  by  so  many  of  his 
countrymen.  At  first,  however,  it  required  considerable  interest  to 
be  allowed  to  go  to  Paris,  particularly  in  the  case  of  English  artists. 
This  was  exerted  on  Girtin's  behalf  by  one  of  his  numerous  friends 
and  patrons,  the  above-mentioned  Sir  Charles  Long,  who  was  at 
that  time  Under  Secretary  of  State. 

The  following  letter,  however,  dated  'October  I7th,  iSoi,'  seems 


CH.  ill  THE    LAST   YEARS    OF    GIRTIN  in 

to  show  that  he  did  not  even  then  contemplate  leaving  England  : 
'  To  Mr.  Harrison  at  Aid"  Boydells.  Friend  Harrison, — I  am  so 
very  ill  that  I  am  advised  to  go  into  the  country  for  a  little  while.  I 
shall  desire  a  person  to  call  upon  you  if  in  case  you  should  have 
occasion  for  anything  who  will  attend  to  my  business  during  my 
absence.  If  you  will  have  the  goodness  to  send  what  orders  you 
may  want  to  my  mother  Mrs.  Vaughan,1  Duke  Street,  Little  Britain, 
she  will  take  care  to  let  the  person  know.  I'm  sorry  to  hear  you 
have  been  ill.  I  hope  your  better.  Yours  respectfully, 

(T.  GIRTIN. 

'Drury  Lane  56. '2 

Girtin  went  to  Paris  in  November  of  the  same  year,  1801,  his 
brother  John,  it  is  said,  lending  him  ioo/.  for  the  purpose.  There 
was  inducement  enough  to  visit  the  French  capital  at  this  time, 
without  the  excuse  of  ill  health.  He  derived,  indeed,  no  bodily 
benefit  from  the  change  ;  on  the  contrary,  he  was  found  to  be  much 
worse  when  he  returned  home.  While  in  Paris,  however,  as  well  as 
in  one  or  two  of  the  towns  he  passed  through,3 '  he  executed  a  large 
number  of  sketches,  which  for  boldness  betokened  no  decay  of 
power,'  and  are  reckoned  as  in  some  respects  his  best  works.  For 
convenience,  and  possibly  in  prudence  also,  as  the  Parisians  were  said 
to  be  jealous  of  sketching,  particularly  by  foreigners,  he  took  all  the 
views  which  he  made  during  his  residence  in  Paris,  from  the  windows 
of  a  carriage  which  he  engaged  for  his  daily  drives.  In  this  fashion 
'  he  recorded,'  says  Pye, '  in  a  number  of  sketches  the  first  impressions 
of  his  mind  on  seeing  the  great  features  of  that  remarkable  city.' 4 
But  he  found  himself  lonely  and  solitary  in  Paris  ;  and  no  wonder. 
He  had  had  to  go  alone,  for  his  young  wife  was  within  a  month  of 
her  confinement.  She  went  to  stay  with  her  parents  at  Islington,  and 
their  child  was  born  on  the  loth  of  December,  during  the  father's 
absence  abroad.  His  health  still  declining,  Girtin  returned  to 
England  in  May  1802.  He  had  then  but  six  months  to  live;  and 

1  Oirtin's  mother  had  married  a  Mr.  Vaughan,  a  pattern-drawer.     Miller,  in  Turner  and 
Girtiifs  Picturesque  Views,  assuming  that  the  marriage  took  place  shortly  after  her  first 
husband's  death,  conjectures  that  both  Girtin  and  Turner  derived  from  this  stepfather  their 
introduction  to  art.     Possibly  this  was  the  Thomas  Vaughan  mentioned  by  Ottley,  in  his 
supplement  to  Bryan,  p.  149,  as  residing  in  Spitalfields,  and  the  master  of  Robert  Seymour 
the  caricaturist. 

2  From  an  autograph  lately  in  the  collection  of  Mr.  W.  V.  Morten. 
1  Miller's  Turner  and  Girtiifs  Picturesque  Views. 

*  Notes  on  Turner's  '  Liber  Studiorum,'  p.  47  «. 


ii2  LIFE   AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  UK.  n 

these  he  employed  in  making  for  Lord  Essex  a  scries  of  drawings 
from  his  Paris  sketches,  and  putting  the  subjects  into  a  form  suitable 
for  reproduction  through  the  press. 

The  views  were  drawn  in  outline,  and  etched  on  soft  ground  by 
Girtin  himself.  A  set  of  impressions  were  taken  from  the  plates,  and 
upon  these  he  put  in  the  effects  in  colour,  and  so  converted  them  into 
the  drawings  for  the  aquatint  engravers.  The  drawings,  twenty  in 
number,  were  purchased  from  the  artist  by  the  Earl  of  Essex,  and 
were  in  that  nobleman's  possession  when  the  work  was  published. 
His  Lordship  afterwards  presented  them  to  the  Duke  of  Bedford.1 
Besides  so  preparing  this  selection  of  his  sketches  for  publication,  the 
artist  painted  two  of  them  on  a  large  scale  as  scenes  for  Covcnt 
Garden  Theatre.  One  was  a  view  of  the  Conciergerie  for  a  panto- 
mime by  Thomas  Dibdin  (writer  of  the  celebrated  '  Mother  Goose, 
of  Grimaldi's  palmy  days),  and  the  other  was  the  Rue  St.  Denis.2 
During  the  Peace  of  Amiens,  Henry  Barker  also  went  to  Paris,  and 
drew  a  panorama  of  that  city.  It  is  remarkable  that  the  two  artists 
should  thus  for  a  second  time  have  been  engaged  in  tasks  so  similar. 

Poor  Girtin  never  went  back  with  his  wife  to  their  bright  dwelling 
in  Hyde  Park.  During  this  last  sad  period  of  his  life  they  resided  at 
her  father's  house  in  Islington  ;  and  he  had  painting-rooms  at  one 
Norman's,  a  frame-maker's  in  the  Strand,  where  he  worked  on  till  the 
pencil  literally  dropped  from  his  weakened  grasp.  There  was  still  an 

1  Mr.  Jenkins,  in  a  note  dated  5  November,  1853,  states  that  he  saw  these  drawings  in 
the  hands  of  Mr.  John  Pye,  the  engraver,  who  was  writing  a  little  account  of  Girtin  to  append 
to  the  work,  and  adds  :  'They  are  exquisitely  drawn  and   tinted,  and  the  gradations  which 
give  space  admirably  managed.'     In  an  earlier  memorandum,  dated   n  January,  1852,  he 
relates  that  Mr.   Pye,  some   time  before,  when  going  over  the  Library  of  Woburn  Abbey, 
with  the  librarian,  Mr.   John  Martin,  discovered  these  same  drawings  there,  they  having 
previously  been  supposed  by  the  custodian  to  be  coloured  prints.     He  also  states  that  Mr. 
Pye  'copied  some  of  these  drawings  and  consequently  became  well  acquainted  with  them.' 
Mr.  Pye  is  not  known  to  have  completed  this  promised  account  of  Girtin.     The  manuscript 
notes  by  him  respecting  that  painter,  which  have  occasionally  been  cited  in  these  pages, 
appear  to  have  been  made  with  a  view  to  a  more  comprehensive  work  projected  by  him,  but 
left  quite  in  embryo,  on  the  history  of  painting  in  Great  Britain,  and  the  influence  thereon 
of  Turner  as  well  as  Girtin. 

2  The  Kuf  St.  Denis  is  one  of  the  most  effective  in  the  engraved  series.     The  street 
leading  to  the  arch  is  filled  with  carts  and  foot-passengers,  and  wonderfully  conveys  the  air 
of  a  bustling  metropolitan  thoroughfare.     There  was  in  the  collection  of  Archdeacon  Burney, 
and  afterwards  in  that  of  Dr.  Percy,  a  fine  coloured  drawing  by  Girtin  of  the  same  subject 
(measuring  15!  by  igf  inches),  in  which  the  houses  are  carried  up  much  higher,  and  there 
are  no  figures  or  carts.     It  looks  like  a  sketch  made  on  the  spot,  and  it  may  have  been 
used  for  the  scene  at  Covent  Garden.     It  was  bought  at  the  Percy  sale,  17  April,  1890,  by 
Messrs.  Colnaghi  &  Co.,  for  twenty-three  guineas.     Another  fine  view  of  the  arch,  taken  in 
flank,  is  in  the  South  Kensington  National  Collection. 


CH.  ui  THE   LAST  YEARS   OF   GIRTIN  113 

idea  of  sending  him  abroad,  in  the  vain  hope  of  restoring  his  health  ; 
as  appears  from  the  following  letter  from  Sir  George  Beaumont, 
referring  apparently  to  the  projected  publication  of  the  Paris  views  : 
'  Dear  Sir, —  I  have  just  received  your  letter  at  this  place.  The 
pleasure  I  feel  at  your  successful  labours  is  much  alloyed  by  the  in- 
different account  you  give  of  your  health.  You  must  take  care  of 
yourself,  and  I  hope  you  will  be  enabled  so  to  settle  your  concerns 
that  you  may  pass  the  winter  in  Madeira.  You  will  there  find  ample 
materials  for  your  pencil,  and  the  air  is  the  most  salubrious,  in  the 
world.  I  have  no  doubt  but  you  will  secure  good  impressions  for 
me  ;  and  if  you  will  send  me  a  line  to  let  me  know  you  receive  this, 
I  will  return  you  a  note  for  the  money.  If  you  write  by  the  return 
of  the  post,  I  shall  receive  it  here,  otherwise  direct  to  me  at  W.  Aston, 
Woodstock.  Lady  Beaumont  joins  with  me  in  best  wishes  for  your 
success,  and  the  return  of  your  health. —  I  am,  dear  Sir,  your  sincere 
well  wisher,  G.  W.  BEAUMONT. — Cheltenham,  Octr.  25th,  1802,  or  at 
Oldfield  Bowles,  Esqre.,  W.  Aston,  Woodstock.' 

But  Girtin  had  set  out  on  a  longer  journey.  He  could  not  wait 
to  select  artists'  proofs  for  his  friend  and  patron.  A  fortnight  after, 
when  his  wife  was  with  him  one  night  in  the  studio,  he  died.  It  was 
the  gth  of  November,  Lord  Mayor's  day.  The  crowd,  that  had  come 
out  to  view  the  City  pageant,  swept  by  under  the  now  darkened 
window  ;  and  admiring  visitors  to  the  show-room  in  Spring  Gardens 
had  to  be  told  next  day  that  the  hand  which  made  that  pageant  live 
again  in  the  view  they  had  come  to  gaze  on,  would  wield  a  brush 
no  more. 

The  loss  which  had  been  sustained  by  Girtin's  death  was  testified 
by  a  group  of  patrons  and  admirers  who  followed  his  remains  to  the 
grave.  Among  them  were  the  artists  Sir  William  Becchey,  Sir  George 
Beaumont,  Hearne,  Edridge,  and  Turner.  He  was  buried  in  the  old 
familiar  quarter  ;  in  the  churchyard  of  St.  Paul's,  Covent  Garden,  on 
the  south  side  of  the  burial  ground  to  the  left  of  the  paved  path  to 
Bedford  Street.  In  1803 — by  whom  it  is  not  known,  some  say  by 
Turner— a  neat  monumental  stone  was  erected  there,  with  the  inscrip- 
tion, '  Sacred  to  the  memory  of  Thomas  Girtin,  Artist,  who  departed 
this  life  Nov.  the  gth,  1802,  aged  27  years.'  It  is  gone  now,  and  Miller ' 
says  that  the  grave,  'just  beyond  the  second  tree,'  is  marked  by  'a 
flat  stone,  which  bears  neither  name  nor  date.'  But  he  prints  a 

1   Turner  ami  Girtin's  Picturesque  Views,  p.  xliv. 

I 


114  LIFE   AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  JSK.  n 

woodcut  of  a  stone  fragment,  with  an  urn  and  festoons  upon  it 
carved  over  the  above  words.  '  This,'  he  says,  '  was  once  propped  up 
near  the  grave.'  It  looks  like  part  of  an  upright  headstone,  and  its 
design  does  not  seem  to  support  his  theory  that  it  originally  lay,  like 
the  present  stone,  flat  upon  the  ground. 

It  is  just  to  add  a  few  words  respecting  Girtin's  private  character, 
on  which  some  cruel  aspersions  were  cast  in  a  short  notice  of  him 
written  by  his  jealous  master,  Edward  Dayes,  and  published  in  1805 
in  a  posthumous  series  of  Professional  Sketches  of  Modern  Artists,  which 
the  author  had  left  in  manuscript.  They  have  been  repeated  by  other 
.  writers1  on,  apparently,  no  better  foundation.  After  duly  warning 
young  persons  not  to  '  suffer  their  passions  to  overpower  their  reason ' 
so  as  to  'destroy  existence,'  and  ending  his  moral  reflections  with  the 
back-handed  compliment  to  his  too  clever  pupil,  '  Had  he  not  trifled 
away  a  vigorous  constitution  he  might  have  arrived  at  a  very  high 
degree  of  excellence  as  a  landscape  painter,'  poor  Dayes,  with  the 
irony  of  fate,  laid  violent  hands  on  himself,  and  put  an  end  to  his 
own  life. 

Inferences  to  support  this  charge  of  intemperance,  and  that 
Girtin's  death  was  hastened  by  excess,  have  been  drawn  from  his 
associating  with  George  Morland.  Assuming  it  to  be  true,  however, 
as  stated,  that  these  two  painters  once  made  a  voyage  together  in  a 
collier,  and  that  Girtin  supped  not  unfrequently  with  Harris  the 
dealer,  where  Morland  supped  also,  it  is  not  a  necessary  deduction 
that  he  was  a  partaker  of  Morland's  vices.  They  were  not  '  boys 
together ;'  for  Morland  was  twelve  years  older  than  Girtin.  That 
Girtin  appreciated  Morland's  genius  may  indeed  be  inferred  from  an 
anecdote  related  by  Dawe,  who  tells  us2  that  a  print  of  the  latter 
artist's  '  Mail  Coach  in  a  Storm  '  was  'highly  admired  by  Girtin,  who, 
having  been  requested  to  make  a  companion  to  it,  after  studying  it 
for  some  time,  threw  down  his  pencil,  exclaiming  that  he  could  do 
nothing  like  it.' 3  But  neither  of  Morland's  biographers,  Dawe  or 
Collins,  even  mentions  a  companionship  between  them.  The  acquaint- 
ance may  possibly  have  been  made  through  John  Raphael  Smith 
(older  still  by  another  eleven  years),  under  whom,  as  we  know,  Girtin 

1  See  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \.  66,  82  ;  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts,  iii.  315,  319  ;  &c. 

*  Life  of  Morland,  200  n. 

'  Mr.  Henderson  had  a  copy  by  Girtin  after  a  picture  of  Morland's  called  '  Dogs  hesi- 
tating about  the  Pluck,'  whirh  copy,  as  usual,  was  impressed  with  his  own  originality.  See 
Burlington  Fine  Arts  Club  Catalogue,  1875,  No.  127  (Girtin  Exhibition). 


CH.  ill  THE    LAST   YEARS    OF    GIRTIN  115 

used  to  colour  prints.  Smith  was  a  sporting  buck,  but  a  kind  and 
generous  man  notwithstanding.  The  '  Morland  Gallery '  was  one  of 
his  best  speculations. 

The  alleged  dissipation  was  wholly  denied  by  Girtin's  family  and 
their  friends,  and  their  story  of  the  sea  voyage  bears  a  purely  inno- 
cent aspect.  It  was  that  Girtin  once  made  an  excursion  to  Scotland 
in  company  with  George  Morland,  that  they  performed  their  passage 
by  sea,  and,  in  order  to  observe  character  and  sketch  the  sailors,  took 
up  their  position  in  the  men's  cabin.  This  love  of  the  picturesque 
was  converted  by  the  detractors  of  Thomas  Girtin  into  a  love  of  low 
society  and  intemperate  habits;  and  the  fact  of  Morland's  having 
been  his  companion  may  have  tended  to  confirm  the  impression. 
His  family  indeed  represented  him  as  being  far  more  abstemious ' 
than  most  young  men  of  his  day,  and  even  asserted  that  he  was  a 
water-drinker.  As  to  social  inclination,  they  attributed  to  him  an 
acquired  relish  for  the  refined  society  which  he  had  enjoyed  in  the 
company  of  his  noble  patrons,  which  led  him  to  declare,  '  with  a 
touch  of  affectation,'  says  Mr.  Jenkins,  '  excusable  in  so  young  a  man,1 
that  he  had  a  dislike  for  all  other  society.2  John  Pye  writes,  that 
Girtin's  wife  was  '  extremely  angry '  at  the  report  of  his  being  fond  of 
low  company,  as  he  '  disliked  it  exceedingly,  and  was  on  the  contrary 
too  fond  of  refined  society  to  enjoy  that  of  the  illiterate  and  vulgar. 
He  lived  so  much  with  his  superiors  in  rank  and  station  that,  she 
says,  it  gave  him  a  distaste  for  the  middle  classes,  who  were  not  at 
that  time  so  well  educated  as  of  later  years.  But  he  never  slighted 
old  companions  and  friends.' 

Point  has  been  given  to  the  story  of  Girtin's  intemperance  and 
dissipation  by  drawing  a  contrast  with  the  career  of  Turner,3  and 
a  moral  lesson  has  been  derived  from  the  allegation  that  Girtin 
shortened  his  days  by  a  loose  course  of  living,  while  Turner  prolonged 
his  life  by  better  regulated  habits.  But  such  evidence  as  there  is  rather 
points  to  the  conclusion  that  Girtin  was  temperate,  married  respect- 
ably, and  died  (of  heart  disease)  universally  beloved  ;  and  that  Turner, 
though  he  lived  to  be  an  old  man,  was  not  averse  to  low  society, 
being  himself  unpolished  and  illiterate,  and  rather  fond  of  tippling, 

1  '  My  father  was  almost  ascetically  temperate,   and  his  taste  always  inclined  to  the 
refined  and  elegant.'    (Girtin's  son,  quoted  by  Thornbury  in  Life  of  Turner,  second  edition, 
p.  61.) 

2  Miss  Hog  to  Mr.  Jenkins. 

J  See  Hayes's  account  of  Turner  in  his  Professional  Sketches. 

\   2 


ii6  LIFE   AND    TIMES    OF    THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  H 

and  that  he  died  in  churlish  seclusion,  attended  only  by  one  of  his 
mistresses,  a  woman  of  no  cultivation,  but  the  sole  intimate  friend  he 
cared  to  have  about  him. 

'Generous  and  giddy'  are  the  epithets  more  fairly  applied  by 
Peter  Pindar  (Dr.  Wolcott)  to  his  '  early  acquaintance,  Tom  Girtin.' 
He  was  considered  by  all  who  knew  him,  to  be  a  most  delightful 
companion,  and  was  generous  and  noble-minded  even  to  a  fault,1 
'  with  little  consciousness,'  says  Leslie,2 '  of  his  own  great  merit.' 

John  Pye,  to  whom  it  was  always  a  strong  recommendation  to  be  a 
good  man  of  business,  writes  of  him  that  his  principal  failing  was 
'  great  carelessness  in  money  matters.  When  he  had  money  he  could 
not  keep  it  if  any  one  wanted  it.'  Mrs.  Borrett  said  '  she  one  day 
heard  a  poor  artist  telling  him  a  tale  of  misery,  and  Girtin,  having  no 
money  at  the  time,  gave  him  a  beautiful  drawing  for  which  he  had 
refused  twenty  guineas.'  She  and  her  husband  '  always  spoke  of  him 
as  one  of  the  kindest  and  best  of  men.' 3 

1  J.  J.  J.  *  Handbook  for  Young  Painters,  266.  •  Pye's  MSS. 


CH.  IV  II? 


CHAPTER    IV 

GIRTIN   AND.  TURNER   AS   CONTEMPORARY   ARTISTS 

Girtin's  relations — Publication  of  the  Paris  views — Fire  at  John  Girtin's — Chambers  Hall 
and  Mr.  Jackson— Gifts  of  Girtin  drawings  to  the  British  Museum — Turner  and  Girtin's 
prices — Turner's  'Norham' — Rival  drawings — Turner  becomes  R.A. — Comparative 
estimates  of  art  of  Turner  and  Girtin-  Their  respective  influence  on  the  water-colour 
school—  Girtin's  on  Constable. 

GIRTIN,  dying  so  young,  left  all  his  near  relations  as  well  as  his 
contemporaries  in  art  to  survive  him,  some  for  many  years.  His 
widow,  as  his  mother  had  done,  married  again.  Her  second  husband's 
name  was  Cohen.  Thomas  Calvert  Girtin,  the  only  child  of  Thomas 
Girtin's  brief  marriage,  became  a  surgeon.  He  resided  at  48  Canonbury 
Square,  Islington,  and  possessed  a  valuable  collection  of  his  father's 
drawings.  In  1837  he  edited  a  popular  little  work  on  human  ana- 
tomy called  '  The  House  we  live  in '  (founded  on  an  American  book 
of  the  same  name  by  Dr.  Alcott),  which  has  run  through  many 
editions.  He  is  mentioned  as  a  'warm  lover  of  the  drama,  and  an 
intense  admirer '  of  Samuel  Phelps  the  actor,  who  when  manager  of 
Sadler's  Wells  Theatre,  from  1844  to  1862,  was  his  friend  and 
neighbour  in  Canonbury  Square,  and  to  whom  he  filled  the  post  of 
family  doctor.1 

The  artist's  brother,  John  the  '  letter  and  heraldic  engraver,'  also 
survived  him  ;  and  after  his  death  took  up  and  published  the  Paris 
views,  then  almost  complete.  They  came  out  in  1803.  The  work  is 
entitled  :  A  Selection  of  Twenty  of  the  most  Picturesque  Views  in 
Paris  and  its  Environs,  'drawn  and  etched  in  the  year  1802  by  the 
late  Thomas  Girtin,  being  the  only  etchings  of  that  celebrated  artist, 
and  aquatinted  in  exact  imitation  of  the  original  drawings,  in  the 
collection  of  the  Rl  Honble  the  Earl  of  Essex.'  The  finished  plates 
bear  imprints  with  dates  from  16  Dec.  1802  to  4  April  1803.  But 
the  etchings  are  variously  dated  from  16  June  to  4  October  1802, 
1  Life  of  Samuel  Pkelps,  by  W.  M.  Phelps  and  Forbes  Robertson  (1886),  p.  9. 


u8  LIFE  AND   TIMES   OF  THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  II 

some  at '  Islington,'  and  one  at  least  (4  Aug.)  has  the  imprint '  Drawn 
etched  and  Pubd  by  T.  Girtin,  Scott's  Place,  Islington.'  It  has  been 
observed  that  in  the  lengthening  intervals  between  the  dates  one 
may  trace  the  rapid  failing  of  power  to  work,  in  the  dying  artist.1 

The  aquatint  engravers  employed  to  put  in  the  light  and   shade 
from  the  impressions  tinted  by  him  were  J.  C.  Lewis,  J.  B.  Harraden, 
W.  Pickett,  and  J.  C.  Stadler,  the  greater  number  being  by  J.  C.  Lewis, 
who  five  or  six  years  afterwards  engraved  in  a  similar  style  for  Turner 
the  first  plate  of  the  Liber  Studiorum.     John  Girtin  published  the  Paris 
views  at  his  house  in  Little  Newport  Street.2     On  '  May  16,  1817,'  we 
find  the  name  and  address,  '  J.  Girtin,  Engraver,  Printer  &c.  at  No.  25 
Old  Compton  Street,  3  doors  from  Prince's  Street,  Soho,'  in  the  imprint 
of  a  mezzotint  portrait,  by  S.  W.  Reynolds  after  Opie,  of  '  the  late  ex- 
traordinary artist,'  Thomas  Girtin.     After  dedicating  this  plate  to  '  Sir 
George  Beaumont,  Bart.'  as  '  one  of  the  artist's  earliest  patrons,'  the 
publisher  adds  :  '  J.  Girtin,  in  the  recent  fire  in  Broad  Street,  having 
lost  all  his  property  excepting  some  prints  &c.  which  with  this  portrait 
of  his  late  brother  he  respectfully  offers  to  a  liberal  public.'     In  the 
stock  thus  destroyed  by  fire  it  is  said  that  there  were  some  of  Thomas 
Girtin's  finest  works  and  many  copies  of  the  Paris  views,  which  thus 
became  scarce  ; 3  and  moreover  that  John   Girtin's  calamity  was  not 
confined  to  the  loss  of  his  house  and  goods,  but  that  his  invalid  wife 
died  in  his  arms  as  he  carried  her  through  the  flames.4     She  was  the 
daughter  of  a  Mr.  Jackson,  a  wealthy  timber  merchant,  who  seems  to 
have  been  a  queer  sort  of  person.     According  to  his  own  account,  in 
conversations  with  Mr.  Chambers  Hall,  who  obtained  from  him  some 
important  Girtin  drawings,  he  used  to  play  the  patron  to  his  artist 
nephew-in-law,  going  about  with  him  and  supplying  him  with  money, 
and   promising  him  good  dinners,  on  condition   that  he   should   first 
make  his  host  a  drawing.     He  showed   Mr.   Hall  a  view  from  the 
window  of  the  Old  Toy  inn  at   Hampton  Court,  which  he  said  he 

1  Miller  and  Thornbury.     The  dates  they  give  are  June  16,  18,  25,  28  ;  July  6,  12,  16, 
19  ;  August  4,  9,  17  ;  September  2,  29 ;  October  4. 

2  In  1805  the  name  of  '  Mr.  Girtin,  New  Street,  Covent  Garden,'  appears  in  a  list  of 
subscribers  to  Dayes's  works.     If  this  be  Thomas  Girtin's  brother,  his  subscription  was  a 
Christian  act.     Another  neighbouring  address,  given  as   that  of  John   Girtin,  is   '  Castle 
Street,  Leicester  Square.'     See  Thornbury's  Life  of  Turner,  2nd  edit.  p.  7°-     The  title  to 
Ackermann's  Repository,  vol.  i.  (June  1809)  has  on  it,  '  Girtin  scr1.' 

3  A  copy  was  sold  in  Paris — Vente  Danlos — in  December   1880  for  321  francs  (about 
I3/.  ^.  (,d.). 

*  Library  of  the  Fine  Arts,  iii.  318. 


CH.  IV     GIRTIN    AND   TURNER   AS    CONTEMPORARY   ARTISTS     119 

obtained  in  this  manner.  Mr.  Hall  was  under  the  mistaken  impres- 
sion that  this  Mr.  Jackson  was  the  father,  not  of  Mrs.  John,  but  of 
Mrs.  Tom,  Girtin  ;  and  cited  his  authority  for  some  stories,  not,  as  he 
made  it  appear,  to  his  supposed  son-in-law's  credit ;  alleging  (among 
other  things)  that  his  was  a  runaway  marriage,  which  has  been 
sufficiently  proved  above,  not  to  have  been  so  in  the  artist's  case. 
Possibly  he  was  speaking  of  John  Girtin. 

Mr.  Hall  gave  the  following  account  of  the  manner  in  which  he  ac- 
quired some  of  Jackson's  stock  of  Girtin  drawings.  Having  received 
no  answer  to  a  letter  which  he  had  written  from  Southampton  to  ask 
the  possessor  whether  he  intended  to  part  with  any  of  them,  and  coming 
to  town  about  six  months  after,  the  intending  collector  called  at  Mr. 
Jackson's.  There  was  a  fine  carriage  at  the  door,  and  high  words  were 
heard  within  the  house.  Mr.  Hall  knocked.  Mr.  Jackson  was  '  not  at 
home.'  But  he  presented  himself  immediately,  saying,  '  Yes,  I  am  at 
home.1  A  gentleman  who  had  been  with  him  then  entered  the  carriage 
and  drove  away.  '  1  am  at  home  to  you,'  says  Jackson,  '  because  I 
used  you  ill  in  not  replying  to  your  letter.  If  it  had  not  been  for  that, 
I  should  not  have  seen  you.  Do  you  know  who  that  was  who  has  just 
left  ?  No  ?  It  was  the  Earl  of  Essex,  who  wants  my  drawings.  But 
I  won't  part  with  them.  He  offended  me.  He  would  not  take  an 
answer,  and  so  I  quarrelled  with  him  and  we  have  been  at  high  words 
about  it.'  Mr.  Hall,  as  he  was  not  to  be  received  as  a  purchaser, 
begged  to  be  allowed  at  least  to  look  round  the  room  where  the 
drawings  hung.  Mr.  Jackson  pressed  him  to  stay  and  dine.  He  did 
so,  and  the  two  struck  up  an  acquaintance,  cemented  by  a  second 
dinner,  by  special  invitation,  '  to  meet  Captain  *  *  .'  After  this, 
Mr.  Jackson's  affairs  became  straitened  by  divers  proceedings  at  law. 
When  two  simultaneous  Chancery  suits  had  combined  to  drain  the 
exchequer,  Mr.  Hall  thought  the  occasion  had  come  for  making  a 
fresh  attempt.  So  he  ventured  to  hint  that  he  should  be  glad  to 
have  a  drawing  or  two.  To  his  surprise,  Jackson  told  him  that  lie 
might  have  whichever  he  liked.  Mr.  Hall  at  once  pointed  out  about 
five,  and,  taking  them  out  of  their  frames,  carried  them  off  in  triumph. 
He  afterwards  acquired  more  from  the  same  source;  and  in  1855 
presented  to  the  British  Museum  the  collection  so  made.  In  1878  a 
rich  addition  was  made  to  the  store  of  Girtin's  drawings  there,  by  the 
bequest  by  Mr.  Henderson  of  those  formerly  belonging  to  his  father, 
Girtin  and  Turner's  old  patron,  of  Adelphi  Terrace. 


120  LIFE   AND    TIMES   OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  n 

Memoranda  preserved  by  Pye,  of  what  Chambers  Hall  told  him, 
afford  some  evidence  of  the  prices  charged  both  by  Girtin  and 
Turner  for  drawings,  during  their  joint  life.  Mr.  Hall  used  to  say 
that  for  drawings  of  the  largest  size  their  prices  were  the  same ;  and 
he  described  a  fine  one  of  Girtin's  (27  by  19  inches  in  size)  represent- 
ing 'the  ruined  church  of  Jedburgh,  seen  in  its  full  length,  the  river, 
in  which  the  building  was  reflected,  flowing  between  it  and  the 
spectator,'  and  '  near  the  front,  standing  in  shallow  water,  and  on  a 
sand-bank,  female  figures  washing  linen,'  for  which  Mr.  Thomas 
Worthington  (above  mentioned)  paid  the  artist  his  highest  price, 
namely  six  guineas.1  As  this  was  exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy 
in  1797,  in  which  year  Turner  made  a  celebrated  drawing  of  the  same 
class,  for  which  he  charged  eight  guineas,  Pye  assumes  that  it  must 
have  been  made,  as  that  was,  the  year  before  it  was  exhibited — that 
is  to  say,  in  1796 — each  painter  thus  raising  his  price  by  two  guineas 
from  one  year  to  the  next. 

Girtin's  works  must  have  become  more  highly  esteemed  before 
he  died,2  for,  in  addition  to  his  mother-in-law's  story  of  his  refusing 
twenty  guineas  for  one,  and  then  giving  it  to  a  beggar,  the  following 
letter  from  the  Earl  of  Harewood,  dated  Harewood  House,  27  July, 
1801,  names  the  same  amount:  '  I  hope  you  have  made  the  altera- 
tions in  the  Drawings  of  this  place  which  I  wish'd  you  to  do,  and 
that  you  have  returned  them  to  the  house  in  Hanover  Square.  I 
think  you  said  they  were  to  be  20  guineas  each.  If  you  will  call  on 
Mr.  Nelson,  Merc*,  at  No.  I  Hylord's  Court,  Crutched  Friars,  he  will 
pay  you  on  producing  this  letter  84  pounds.  The  frame-maker's 
bill  I  will  pay  when  I  go  to  town.' 

The  drawing  of  Turner's  to  which  reference  is  above  made  was 
exhibited  at  Somerset  House  in  1798,  and  its  exhibition  constituted 
an  epoch  in  that  painter's  career.  Its  title  was,  l  Nor/tain  Castle,  on 
the  Tweed — Summer's  Morn,'  to  which  the  following  lines  from 
Thomson's  Seasons  were  added  in  the  catalogue  : — 

But  yonder  comes  the  powerful  King  of  Day, 
Rejoicing  in  the  East ;  the  lessening  cloud, 
The  kindling  azure,  and  the  mountain's  brow 
Illumin'd — his  near  approach  betoken  glad. 

1  Mr.  Worthington  made  a  copy  of  it,  which  he  piesented  to  Mr.  Hall. 

2  The  highest  prices  for  drawings  by  Girtin,  recorded  in  Mr.  Kedford's  Art  Salt's,  are 
i63/.  l6s.  for  'Lichfield  Cathedral,'  in  '  Charles  Vine'  sale,  1873;  and  l6l/.  14*.  for  'The 
Kiver  Exe  '  in  '  Bale '  sale,  1881.     All  others  are  under  ioo/. 


CH.  IV     GIRTIN   AND    TURNER   AS    CONTEMPORARY   ARTISTS     121 

Pye  relates '  that  '  a  few  years  before  Turner's  decease '  the 
painter  'was  walking  with  a  friend'2  on  the  bank  of  the  Tweed, 
when,  Norham  Castle  within  view,  Turner  stopt  and  bowed  in 
obeisance.'  On  his  companion's  inquiring  why  he  did  so,  he  answered, 
'  Well  I  may  !  It  was  my  drawing  of  Norham  Castle  that  brought 
me  into  public  notice.'  Perhaps  for  this  reason  the  subject  was  one 
for  which  he  had  ever  a  marked  affection.  He  drew  it  several  times 
with  varying  treatment.  It  was  etched  by  him  in  the  Liber  Studiorum 
in  1816,  and  mezzotinted  there,  and  in  the  Rivers  of  England  \i\  1824 
by  Charles  Turner.  Heath  engraved  it  singly  in  1827,  and  Miller 
in  Scott's  Prose  Works  in  1 834. 

The  following  account  is  given  by  Pye 3  of  the  origin  of  this  first 
of  the  Norham  drawings:  'In  1797,  when  Turner  was  22  years  of 
age,  Mr.  Blake,  of  Portland  Place,  commissioned  him  to  make  a 
drawing  at  the  price  of  8  guineas,  which  was  [the  price  for]  the 
largest  size  then  made,  whether  by  Girtin  or  Turner.  The  subject 
of  the  work  was  left  to  Turner's  choice,  who  adapted  to  his  purpose 
Norham  Castle.  When  Mr.  Blake  was  shown  the  work,  and  had 
been  told  by  Turner  that  it  was  made  expressly  for  him,  he  was  loud 
in  expressions  of  pleasure  at  having  become  the  proprietor  of  so 
beautiful  a  work.  "But,"  said  Turner,  "I  have  been  offered  12 
guineas  for  it."  Mr.  Blake  having  objected  to  paying  for  it  more 
than  the  sum  agreed  upon,  and  also  to  preventing  Turner  being  the 
recipient  of  the  larger  sum,  the  work  never  came  into  Mr.  Blake's 
possession.'  In  the  following  year  1798  the  drawing'  Norham  Castle' 
appeared  in  the  Royal  Academy  exhibition.  '  Many  years  after- 
wards the  public  were  reminded  of  the  work  by  an  engraving  of 
Norham  Castle  in  the  Liber  Studiorum,  on  the  lower  margin  of  which 
is  the  following  inscription  :  "  The  Drawing  in  the  possession  of  the 
late  Lord  Lascells." '  Lascelles  is  the  family  name  of  the  Earls  of 
Harevvood.  In  1858  the  drawing  (27  by  19  inches)  was  at  Harewood 
House,  Grosvenor  Square,  whence  it  was  removed  to  Christie  and 
Manson's,  and  there  sold  on  May  the  1st,  under  the  name  '  A  Castle 
on  a  height  above  a  river  in  which  cows  are  standing,'  to  the  late 
Mr.  John  Dillon  at  the  price  of  log/.  4-?.  At  the  sale  there  of  that 
gentleman's  collection  in  1869,  it  was  purchased  by  Agnew  for  500 
guineas.  In  1887  it  was  the  property  of  Daniel  Thwaites,  Esq.,  and 

1  MSS. 

1  Said  to  have  been  Cadell,  the  publisher.    See  Rawlinson's  Notes  on  Collection  of  Draw- 
ings by  Turner  at  R.A.  1887,  p.  9.  •  MSS. 


122  LIFE   AND   TIMES    OF   THOMAS   GIRTIN  BK.  II 

lent  by  him  to  the  Turner  loan  collection  at  the  Royal  Academy, 
where  its  place  was  duly  marked  in  the  chronological  sequence  of 
the  painter's  drawings.  The  descriptions  under  which  Turner  entered 
his  Norham  drawing  and  his  other  landscapes  in  1798  afford  a  note- 
worthy contrast  to  those  of  previous  years.  Now  and  in  future  they  are 
accompanied  by  verses  of  descriptive  poetry,  and  an  indication  of  the 
condition  of  light  or  weather  under  which  the  subject  is  intended  to  be 
represented.  A  visit  to  the  northern  counties  pppears  then  to  have 
wrought  in  Turner  an  enlargement  of  feeling  in  the  presence  of 
grander  and  more  impressive  natural  scenery  similar  to  that  which 
inspired  the  soul  and  guided  the  hand  of  Girtin. 

In  1799  a  sunset  view  of  Caernarvon  Castle  by  Turner,  and  a 
view  of  mountainous  scenery  near  Beddgelert  by  Girtin,  were  two 
rival  drawings  at  the  Academy  exhibition,  which,  unlike  in  subject 
and  effect,  are  said  to  have  attracted  equal  attention.1  But  Turner, 
as  before  said,  was  seeking  for  glory  through  his  pictures  in  oil.  He 
had  become  an  Associate  of  the  Royal  Academy  in  1800;  and  in 
1802,  the  year  of  Girtin's  death,  he  blossomed  forth  into  a  full 
Academician,  and  instead  of  remaining  as  before  plain  '  W.  Turner,' 
he  wrote  his  name  at  length,  as  he  had  been  christened  (at  St.  Paul's 
Church,  near  the  site  of  Girtin's  grave),  'Joseph  Mallord  William 
Turner,  R.A.'  Up  to  this  time,  though  he  had  already  launched  out 
into  poetic  themes,  such  as  the  two  '  Plagues  of  Egypt,'  he  had  for 
the  most  part  worked  in  the  same  field  of  nature  with  Tom  Girtin. 
Both  were  abroad  for  the  first  time  in  1802,  and  it  is  by  the  con- 
sideration of  what  they  had  done  when  painters  of  no  experience 
beyond  the  scenery  of  their  native  land  that  comparative  justice  can 
best  be  done  to  their  respective  merits  as  artists. 

'  The  impression  derived,"  says  Mr.  Jenkins,  '  from  a  comparison 
of  Turner  and  Girtin  at  this  period,  1800-1802,  is  that  Turner  was 
the  more  careful  and  painstaking,  Girtin  the  more  vigorous  and 
stronger  in  colour.'  '  The  breadth  of  Turner,'  says  Pye,  '  is  greater 
than  that  of  Girtin.  Energy  of  individuality  in  Girtin  is  generally 
greater  than  breadth.'  William  Havell  said  that  both  Turner  and 
Girtin  were  '  great  experimentalists  in  rendering  paper  and  water- 
colours  subservient  to  the  expression  of  light,  which  they  found  to 
be  chiefly  dependent  on  gradation.'2 

1  William  Havell  to  Pye. 

''  '  In  such  matters,'  he  said,  '  there  was  no  trick  that  they  were  not  up  to.     Turner  used 


CH.  IV     GIRTIN    AND    TURNER   AS    CONTEMPORARY   ARTISTS     123 

'  In  Turner,'  adds  Pye,  '  gradation  was  the  governing  power. 
In  Girtin,  gradation  had  its  influence,  but  the  parts  were  the 
governing  power.  Turner's  gradation  commenced  from  the  marginal 
line  of  the  foreground  of  his  work.  In  Girtin's  works  it  did  not 
begin  till  half-way  to  the  horizon  ;  consequently  it  was  not  so  com- 
plete as  Turner's.'  But  he  adds,  '  The  composition  of  forms  and 
natural  laws  of  light  applied  to  the  production  of  artificial  light 
in  a  drawing,  or  of  chiaroscuro  apart  from  and  in  connection  with 
local  colours,  were  matters  with  which  Turner  was  not  more  con- 
versant than  Girtin.'  '  Sobered  tints  of  exquisite  truth,  and  broad 
chiaroscuro,  are,'  says  Leslie,1 '  the  prevailing  characteristics  of  Girtin.' 

Pye  regarded  the  English  school  of  Landscape  art  which  was 
founded  by  Girtin  and  Turner  as  one  '  based  upon  a  practical  know- 
ledge of  chiaroscuro,'  the  study  of  which  had  been  little  attended 
to  by  continental  artists.  Havell,  no  mean  authority,  gave  to  Turner 
the  credit  of  being  '  the  first  of  the  water-colour  draftsmen  who 
aimed  at  making  the  eye  of  the  spectator  look  into  the  subject  of 
the  drawing  beyond  the  surface  of  the  paper  on  which  it  was 
executed,  and  through  it  into  immeasurable  space.'  The  earlier 
drawings  of  Paul  Sandby  and  the  school  before  Cozens  he  called 
'  unmeaning  muddle,'  declaring  that  '  in  them  the  eye  always  rested 
on  objects  individually.'  But  it  was  to  Turner  and  Girtin  alike  that 
he  attributed  the  merit  of  '  introducing  fine  art  into  landscape 
drawing,  as  Gainsborough  had  done  in  a  less  degree  into  paint- 
ing.' 

During  the  joint  lives  of  Girtin  and  Turner  these  two  artists  may 
be  regarded  as  joint  representatives  of  the  new  school  of  water- 
colour  painting  of  which  they  were  the  joint  founders.  But  their 
influence  upon  that  school  in  its  further  development  was  very 
different.  Turner  had  few,  if  any,  direct  followers.  His  transcendent 
power  was  acknowledged  by  all  artists,  and  the  greatest  deference 
was  paid  to  his  judgment  when  he  chose  to  give  it ;  but  the  '  sincerest 
flattery '  of  imitation  he  never  received.  Girtin,  on  the  contrary,  had 
hosts  of  followers  even  in  his  lifetime,  and  it  is  he  who  must  be 
looked  upon  as  the  real  father  of  the  group  of  painters  of  which  the 

to  cut  out  figures  in  paper  and  paste  them  on  his  drawing.     If  his  experiments  spoiled  one 
part  of  a  drawing,  he  would  paste  the  good  part  upon  another  piece  of  paper,  rub  down  the 
edges  of  it,  and  work  on  the  new  surface  till  he  brought  the  whole  into  harmony.     He  and 
Girtin  would  also  seek  to  create  gradation  by  pumping  water  upon  their  drawings." 
'  Handbook  for  Young  Painters,  265. 


124  LIFE   AND   TIMES   OF   THOMAS    GIRTIN  BK.  II 

earlier  and  leading  members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society  were  the 
foremost  representatives. 

From  the  time  of  Girtin's  death  the  school  may  be  considered 
as  dividing  itself  into  two  branches,  or  more  properly  as  two  separate 
trees,  springing  indeed  from  the  same  soil,  and  having  grown  together 
as  saplings,  but  with  separate  roots,  one  in  the  practice  of  Turner, 
the  other  in  that  of  Girtin.  The  former  developed  into  a  single 
giant  growth,  majestic  and  solitary,  crowning  the  forest  ;  while  in  the 
latter  case  a  seedling  group  of  rising  painters  sprang  up  around  a 
stricken  stump,  and  became  the  school  of  water  colours  that  flourished 
in  Britain  in  the  first  half  of  the  nineteenth  century. 

Nor  was  Girtin's  influence  quite  confined  to  practitioners  in  that 
material.  Leslie  tell  us  in  his  Memoirs  of  Constable '  that  the  whole 
course  of  that  painter's  practice  was  affected  by  the  contemplation 
of  about  thirty  works  by  Girtin  which  Sir  George  Beaumont  recom- 
mended him  to  study  as  examples  of  breadth  and  truth. 

1  Chapter  I.,  p.  6. 


BOOK    III 

THE  FOUNDING   OF  THE  SOCIETY 


CHAPTER    I 

EXHIBITORS'  GRIEVANCES — WELLS  AND  SHELLEY 

Resuml  of  development — Water-colour  art  little  known  to  general  public — Exhibitions  since 
1760 — Absorbed  in  Royal  Academy — Water-colours  ill  seen  there — Their  painters  ex- 
cluded from  academic  honours — An  independent  exhibition  proposed — W.  F.  Wells — 
Birth  and  education — Works  at  the  Royal  Academy — Published  works — Connection  wilh 
Turner — Circular  to  draftsmen — Samuel  Shelley — Birth — Miniaturesat  the  Royal  Academy 
— Copies  from  Reynolds —Changes  of  address — Paints  portraits  and  'history  in  small.' 

'  WHETHER  Turner  or  Girtin,  if  either,  is  entitled  to  be  called  the 
originator  of  the  natural  method  of  water-colour  painting,  which 
gives  their  due  value  to  the  local  hues  of  objects  under  various 
influences  of  light,  is  an  inquiry  which  has  but  slight  bearing  on  their 
relative  positions  as  artists.  Its  interest  in  the  history  of  this  art  is 
of  the  same  kind  as  that  prolific,  but  not  very  profitable,  subject  of 
discussion,  the  claims  of  the  Van  Eycks  to  the  invention  of  oil- 
painting.'  '  But,  to  whomsoever  due,  it  was  a  change  of  process 
which  led  to  an  assimilation  of  effect  and  finally  to  a  rivalry  in  force 
between  water-colour  and  oil.  A  full  competition  between  the  two 
branches  of  art  had  not  yet  been  rendered  possible  ;  but  the  former 
had  now  assumed  a  new  rank  and  position.  It  was  no  longer 
'  drawing '  but '  painting '  in  water-colours. 

The  old  method  still  continued  to  be  practised  by  some  artists, 
particularly  as  the  commencement  of  a  picture.  And  it  has  its 
undoubted  advantages.  Pyne  2  admits  that  those  who  work  by  this 
process  '  can  execute  their  tinted  designs  with  ten  times  the  despatch 
of  those  who  paint  their  compositions.'  Still  he  holds  that  '  however 
bright  the  effects  which  they  may  bring  out  by  washing  their  colours 
1  The  Spectator,  14  August,  1875.  *  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  193. 


126  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  in 

over  a  general  and  unvaried  preparation  of  black  and  grey,'  they  are 
properly  denominated  draftsmen  or  tinters  ;  '  not  by  way  of  reproach, 
but  from  the  mechanical  ease  of  their  practice.'  For  the  purposes  to 
which  it  was  applied  by  the  old  topographers,  the  tinted  manner  was 
still,  and  for  such  purposes  it  in  many  respects  remains  to  this  day, 
the  best  that  could  be  employed.  Except  in  providing  the  sensuous 
delight  of  rich  and  varied  colouring,  and  in  effecting  a  close  imitation 
of  details  not  essential  to  the  story,  there  is  ample  scope  in  this 
manner  of  drawing  for  an  artistic  portrayal  of  such  subjects  as  have 
usually  to  be  dealt  with  by  the  topographic  draftsman.  In  architectural 
drawing,  the  union  of  line  and  wash  is  almost  indispensable,  and  there 
is  no  method  which  enables  the  sketcher  to  carry  away  more  quickly 
so  complete  a  memorandum  of  so  many  material  facts.  In  the  hands 
of  some  of  the  artists  who  followed  Sandby,  it  was  moreover  shown  to 
be  capable  of  being  made  the  vehicle  of  great  beauty  of  sentiment 
and  delicacy  of  expression. 

But  the  purposes  to  which  water-colours  had  now  to  be  applied 
belong  to  a  different  category  from  their  old  uses.  Water-colour 
artists  had  hitherto,  as  we  have  seen,  looked  to  several  special  kinds 
of  employment  as  their  means  of  subsistence.  Landscape  draftsmen 
had  begun  by  supplying  drawings  to  the  publishers  of  prints  to 
illustrate  British  topography.  This  practice  led  in  time  to  their 
engagement  by  travellers  abroad,  first  to  record  the  scenes  in  strange 
lands  laid  open  to  view  in  voyages  of  discovery ;  and  then,  as  artist 
companions  to  persons  of  wealth  and  position.  Relations  sprang  up 
between  artists  and  amateurs  which  conferred  mutual  benefits  upon 
both.  The  art  of  the  former  gained  in  refinement  through  the 
appreciation  of  its  higher  qualities  by  a  more  cultured  taste,  and  the 
latter  acquired  practical  knowledge  enabling  them  the  better  to 
record,  and  at  the  same  time  the  more  accurately  to  observe,  the 
beauties  of  nature.  Thus  arose  a  further  important  source  of 
emolument  to  this  class  of  artists  as  professional  teachers  of  drawing. 

Besides  these  occupations,  which  in  general  constituted  the  per- 
manent and  more  regular  means  of  living,  water-colour  drawings,  or 
'  paintings  '  as  they  were  now  entitled  to  be  called,  had  come  to  be 
regarded  as  desiderata  by  collectors  to  stock  their  portfolios  with,  if 
not  as  yet  to  hang  in  heavy  frames  upon  their  drawing-room  walls. 
The  prices  of  these  works,  valued  for  their  own  sakes  as  objects  of 
beauty  and  interest,  not,  as  in  earlier  times,  for  the  sake  of  their 


CH.  I        EXHIBITORS'   GRIEVANCES— WELLS   AND    SHELLEY         127 

subjects  only,  or  for  their  capacity  to  secure  a  profit  by  reproduction 
as  engravings,  were  rising  year  by  year. 

Hitherto  the  sale  of  such  drawings  had  been  chiefly  promoted  by 
this  private  form  of  patronage.  They  were  either  executed  on  com- 
mission, or  mainly  sought  for  by  connoisseurs  and  a  special  class  of 
collectors.  Among  the  general  public,  the  excellence  of  the  new 
branch  of  art  was  little  known,  and  the  demand  was  proportionately 
small  for  paintings  in  water-colour.  The  reason  was  that  they  had 
not  as  yet  been  duly  seen.  There  was  in  their  case  no  adequate 
provision  for  public  display,  no  sufficient  market  for  open  sale. 
Dealers  no  doubt  existed  who  knew  the  wants,  perhaps  the  weak- 
nesses, of  their  customers.  But  their  fraternity  had  not  yet  risen  to 
be  arbiters  of  taste  to  millionnaires  who  lacked  it,  or  to  hold  in  their 
hands  the  power  of  making  a  struggling  artist  rich  or  poor. 

No  doubt  also  there  were  the  exhibitions.  Since  the  opening  of 
the  first,  in  the  rooms  of  the  Society  of  Arts  in  1760,  until  near  the 
end  of  the  century,  there  had  been,  annually,  either  one  or  two  or 
three  exhibitions  of  the  latest  works  of  living  artists  in  England. 
Till  the  year  1768,  when  the  Royal  Academy  was  founded,  there 
were  the  two  rival  bodies,  the  Society  of  Artists  (incorporated  by 
royal  charter  in  1765),  and  the  Free  Society  (enrolled  in  the  Court  of 
King's  Bench  in  1763),  each  of  which  had  its  annual  show,  the  former 
at  Spring  Gardens,  the  latter  at  several  different  places  in  succes- 
sion, first  at  the  Society  of  Arts,  then  in  Maiden  Lane,  Covent 
Garden,  and  afterwards  at  the  bottom  of  the  Haymarket.  In  both 
of  these,  '  water-colours '  (i.e.  distemper  drawings)  and  stained  or 
tinted  drawings  had  been  exhibited.  The  Incorporated  Society  had 
comprised  the  artists  of  greater  distinction,  but  these  were  drawn  off 
into  the  ranks  of  the  new  Academy,  which  from  the  time  of  its  first 
exhibition,  in  1769,  had  provided  the  principal,  and  whose  galleries 
at  Somerset  House  were,  at  the  time  now  under  consideration,  the 
only  regular  public  show-rooms  of  '  the  year's  art.'  Its  attractions 
had  at  the  outset  distanced  those  of  the  rival  exhibitions. 

The  Incorporated  Society,  shorn  of  its  leading  members,  con- 
tinued its  annual  shows  at  Spring  Gardens  till  1773,  when  it  appeared 
in  new  quarters,  which  it  had  built  for  itself  in  the  Strand  ;  that  is  to 
say,  in  a  great  room  afterwards  called  the  Lyceum,  at  Exeter  Change,1 

1  Exeter   Change,  between  Wellington   Street  and  Burleigh  Street,  on  the  site  of  the 
Lyceum  Theatre,  was  taken  down  in  1829.     (Hutton's  Literary  Landmarks  in  Lomion.} 


128  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  UK  ill 

where  the  Lyceum  Theatre  now  stands.  But  this  speculation  was 
fatal  to  the  society.  It  had  to  sell  the  building  in  order  to  pay  for 
its  erection,  and  afterwards  maintained  no  more  than  a  spasmodic 
existence  ;  which  in  1791  came  to  an  end,  where  it  began,  at  Spring 
Gardens,  after  longer  and  longer  intervals  of  suspended  animation. 

The  Free  Society,  though  always  a  much  smaller  concern,  lingered 
to  a  later  date,  holding  annual  exhibitions,  which  latterly  attracted 
no  notice,  till  1799.  'After  the  establishment  of  the  Royal  Academy, 
not  a  single  artist  joined  the  society.'  But  it  also  had  a  great  room 
built  for  it,  by  Mr.  Christie,  next  to  Cumberland  House,  Pall  Mall  ; 
and  here  it  is  presumed  its  exhibitions  were  held  from  1769,  or 
earlier,  until  1775,  when  it  moved  to  St.  Alban's  Street,  Pall  Mall,  and 
was  lost  in  obscurity.1 

What  had  virtually  been  the  case  for  many  years  past,  was  the 
actual  state  of  things  now ;  that  is  to  say,  at  the  time  of  Girtin's 
death,  and  Turner's  reception  into  the  higher  rank  of  the  Academy, 
in  1802.  It  was  only  to  Somerset  House,  'The  Exhibition'2  as  it 
was  called,  par  excellence,  that  the  water-colour  artist  who  was  not 
content  to  depend  on  private  patronage  only,  or  on  the  favour  of 
dealers,  could  go  to  exhibit  his  wares.  Here,  however,  partly  from 
their  own  nature,  partly  from  the  arrangements  of  the  galleries,  they 
were  exposed  to  an  unequal  competition,  which  they  were  ill  able  to 
bear.  To  some  extent,  indeed,  the  water-colour  drawings  were  sepa- 
rated from  the  oil-pictures.  But  the  distinction  made  between  their 
was  one  which  placed  the  former  not  only  in  a  different,  but  in  - 
lower,  category. 

The  rooms  at  Somerset  House,  occupied  since  1780  by  the  Royal 
Academy  for  their  exhibition  galleries,  consisted  of  the  following, 
situated  in  the  right  wing,  in  the  Strand.  On  the  ground  floor  was 
the  Sculpture  Room.  On  the  first  floor  were  the  Library  (a  small 
room),  and  the  Antique  Academy,  leading  to  the  Lecture  Room, 
described  as 'spacious,  elegant,  and  well-proportioned.'  On  the  second 
floor  were  the  '^4#/z'-Room'  (so  always  spelt),  a  small  apartment  re- 
ceiving its  light  from  an  arched  window  above  the  entrance ;  and  the 

1  See  Pye's  Patronage  of  British  Art,  286. 

z  As  one  speaks  of  '  The  Bible '  in  contradistinction  to  all  other  f)tf)\la,  the  Royal 
Academy  exhibition  was  long  known  in  London  society  as  '  The  Exhibition.'  In  1851  the 
title  got  transferred  to  the  'World's  Show,'  which  took  place  in  that  year  in  Hyde  Park. 
The  name  was  afterwards  reserved  for  its  international  successors  at  South  Kensington,  but 
has  now  lost  its  special  meaning. 


CH.  I       EXHIBITORS'  GRIEVANCES— WELLS  AND   SHELLEY        129 

Grand  Exhibition  Room,  which,  measuring  about  60  by  50  feet,  was 
described  as  '  noble  and  spacious '  and  '  judiciously  lighted  by  four 
arched  windows '  distributing  '  an  equal  light  over  the  whole.' '  One 
of  the  rooms  used  for  the  exhibition  is  called  the  '  Council  Room ' 
in  some  of  the  catalogues.  It  is  believed  to  have  been  appropriated 
to  that  use  at  a  later  period. 

With  the  exception  of  miniatures  during  the  first  few  years,  water- 
colour  pictures  were  never  placed  in  the  great  room.2  That  this 
exclusion  was  not  made  in  order  to  give  their  merits  a  better  chance 
of  recognition,  is  suggested  by  the  fact  that  in  the  rooms  to  which 
they  were  admitted  they  were  'not  only  hung,' says  Pyne,  ' amidst 
pictures  in  oil,  but  were  generally  surrounded  by  such  inferior  per- 
formances as  were  not  deemed  worthy  of  a  place  in  the  principal 
apartment.  These  were  usually  subjects  ill  conceived,  badly  drawn, 
and  worse  coloured — garish  and  staring  in  effect,  and  commonly  so 
entirely  at  variance  with  harmony,  as  not  only  to  excite  disgust  in 
the  spectator,  but  by  the  violence  of  their  opposition,  to  do  manifest 
injury  to  the  chaste  and  unobtrusive  works  in  water-colours.  These 
disadvantages  were  not  all ;  the  light  in  the  apartments  appropriated 
to  the  water-colour  department  was  ill  calculated  to  display  the 
merits  of  such  delicate  and  high-finished  works ;  being  admitted 
through  common  sashes,  and  frequently  glaring  on  the  subjects  on 
one  side  of  the  room,  whilst  those  on  the  other  side  were  exhibited 
on  the  piers  and  spaces  between  the  windows,  with  the  light  from 
behind.  Hence,  many  works  of  great  merit  appeared  not  as  pictures, 
but  merely  as  so  many  pier-glasses.  Moreover,  the  crowded  state  of 
these  apartments  frequently  interrupted  the  light  from  falling  on  the 
pictures  that  happened  to  be  hung  within  five  or  six  feet  of  the  floor. 
Had  the  same  works  been  exhibited  in  the  upper  story,  where  the 
light  was  admitted  from  above,  this  latter  inconvenience  would  have 
been  obviated,  as  the  angle  of  light  would  have  fallen  [sic]  uninter- 
ruptedly upon  all  sides  of  the  apartment  alike.'3  Even  had  the 
separation  been  fairly  complete,  the  merits  of  the  water-colours  would 
still  have  been  '  eclipsed  to  the  public  eye '  by  the  contrast  afforded 
tin  passing  from  '  large  and  splendid  performances  executed  in  oil, 
under  the  influence  of  that  imposing  transparency  and  splendour 

1  Gentleman's  Magazine,  1780,  p.  220. 

2  Leslie,  in  a  letter  to  Pye  (22  December,  1857)  respecting  Turner's  paintings 
*  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  1 30. 

K 


130  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  BK.  ill 

which  varnish  superadds  to  pictures  so  painted/  to  the  adjacent  apart- 
ments appointed  for  the  exhibition  of  '  works  of  their  chaste  and 
unassuming  character.'1  But  'the  limited  space  then  at  the  disposal 
of  the  Royal  Academy  could  not  be  enlarged,  and  the  water-colour 
painters  consequently  saw  no  prospect  of  exhibiting  their  works  in  a 
way  to  do  them  justice.' 

They  had  another  and  serious  ground  of  complaint  in  the 
existence  of  'a  law  of  the  Royal  Academy  which  excluded  from 
Academic  honours  those  artists  who  wrought  in  water-colours  only. 
The  painters  in  water-colours  urged  with  reason  that  professional 
rank  ought  not  to  depend  upon  the  vehicle  used,  but  upon  the  merits 
of  the  works  in  whatever  materials  executed — that  if  the  use  of  oil- 
colours  had  its  special  advantage,  so  had  water-colours,  the  practice 
of  which  had  become  greatly  developed  ;  and  that  it  behoved  those 
who  followed  exclusively  this  branch  of  painting  to  endeavour  to  show 
that  the  slight  which  the  rule  of  the  Royal  Academy  appeared  to  cast 
upon  it  was  unmerited  ;  and  they  pointed  to  the  genius  of  Turner 
and  of  Girtin  and  other  artists  of  eminence,  whose  practice  had 
superseded  the  early  stained  and  tinted  manner  of  their  predecessors ' 
of  the  time  when  the  Academy  had  been  founded  '  and  had  contributed 
to  raise  water-colour  art  to  the  dignity  of  painting.' 2 

Moreover,  those  Academicians  who  painted  in  water-colour  as 
well  as  in  oil  acquired  privileges  when  once  elected  (on  the  strength 
of  their  oil-pictures)  which  enabled  them  to  place  their  compeers  in 
the  lower  branch  of  art  at  a  further  disadvantage.  '  Though  the 
splendid  works  of  Turner,  of  Westall,  &c.,'  says  Robert  Hills,  '  were 
conspicuously  placed,  the  greater  part  of  the  water-colour  paintings 
were  hung,'  as  above  stated,  amidst  oil-paintings,  between  windows 
and  under  windows,  sometimes  in  the  darkened  room  with  the  sculp- 
ture, where  if  they  had  merit  it  could  not  have  been  seen.'  It  has 
even  been  said  that  '  the  exhibitions  of  the  Royal  Academy  were  so 
crowded  with  the  products  of  amateurs,  that  the  pictures  of  profes- 
sional painters  could  not  obtain  that  prominence  they  deserved.' 3 

Under  these  circumstances,4  it  occurred  to  certain  of  the  painters 
in  water-colours,  that  it  would  be  desirable  to  establish  an  indepcn- 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  130.  *  J.  J.  J.  MSS. 

*  Art  Journal,  I  July,  1850,  p.  2l6. 

•  '  It  is  not  true  '  (as  had  been  alleged),  says  Hills  in  some  manuscript  notes  in  the  Society's 
possession,   '  that  the  thought  of  establishing  the  Water-Colour  Society  originated  in  the 
fascination  of  the  water  colour  drawings  of  Turner  in  the  Council  Room  at  Somerset  House ; 


CH.  I       EXHIBITORS'    GRIEVANCES-WELLS   AND    SHELLEY         131 

dent  exhibition,  wherein  their  works  could  be  displayed  to  more 
advantage.  The  idea  is  said  to  have  first  suggested  itself  to  a  land- 
scape painter  of  recognized  ability,  if  of  no  great  distinction,  named 
Wells,  who  in  his  time  enjoyed  extensive  practice  as  a  teacher  of 
drawing. 

WILLIAM  FREDERICK  WELLS  was  born  in  1762  in  London, 
where  as  a  boy  of  twelve  he  is  said  to  have  learnt  from  Barralet ' 
to  draw  in  pencil  and  crayon.  As  a  practitioner  in  art,  his  name 
first  occurs  in  the  catalogue  of  the  Royal  Academy  for  1795  with  two 
views  in  Scotland,  after  which  date  he  had  sent  there  from  four  to 
eight  drawings  annually,  mostly  subjects  from  Wales.  Possibly  he  was 
the  author  of  a  '  Treatise  on  Anatomy,  and  Proportions  of  the  Human 
Figure,  adapted  to  the  arts  of  Designing,  Painting,  and  Sculpture, 
illustrated  with  copper-plates,  designed  principally  for  the  informa- 
tion of  such  Ladies  as  practise  the  above  arts,  &c.,'  published  in  1796. 
Certainly  he  had  a  share  in  the  production  of  a  set  of  seventy-two 
soft-ground  etchings,  in  imitation  of  chalk  drawings,  which,  gathered 
into  a  folio  volume  in  1819,  bear  the  title,  'A  Collection  of  Prints, 
illustrative  of  English  Scenery,  from  the  Drawings  and  Sketches  of 
Tlios.  Gainsborough,  R.A.,  in  the  various  collections  of  the  R' 
Hon.  Baroness  Lucas  ;  Viscount  Palmerston  ;  George  Hibbert,  Esq. ; 
Dr.  Monro  ;  and  several  other  Gentlemen.2  Engraved  and  Published 
by  W.  F.  Wells  and  J.  Laporte.  J.  Smeeton,  Printer,  148  St.  Martin's 

but  from  drawings '  of  others  being  '  badly  placed,  and  mixed  with  oil ;  from  the  Law  casting 
a  stigma  on  water-colour  painters  ;  and  from  the  desire  to  establish  a  mart  for  sale  of  the 
labour  of  years,  and,  of  a  surplus  after  expenses  to  the  successful,  by  a  dividend.'  The 
allegation  thus  traversed  by  Hills  is  contained  in  the  following  passage  in  a  short  biography 
of  Robson  the  water-colour  painter,  written  in  1833,  by  Thomas  Uwins,  afterwards  R.A. 
'The  writer  is  old  enough,'  he  says,  '  to  recollect  the  time  when  the  council-room  of  the 
Royal  Academy  was  devoted  to  the  exhibition  of  paintings  in  water-colours.  Here  were  to 
be  seen  the  rich  and  masterly  sketches  of  Hamilton,  the  fascinating  compositions  of  Westall, 
the  beautiful  landscapes  of  Girtin,  Callcott,  and  Reinagle,  and  the  splendid  creations  of 
Turner — the  mightiest  enchanter  who  has  ever  wielded  the  magic  power  of  art  in  any  age  or 
country.  At  this  time  the  council-room,  instead  of  being  what  the  present  arrangement 
makes  it,  a  place  of  retirement  from  the  bustle  of  the  other  departments,  was  itself  the  great 
point  of  attraction.  Here  crowds  first  collected,  and  here  they  lingered  longest,  because  it 
was  here  the  imagination  was  addressed  through  the  means  of  an  art  which  added  the  charm 
of  novelty  to  excellence.  It  was  the  fascination  of  this  room  that  first  led  to  the  idea  of 
forming  an  exhibition  entirely  of  pictures  in  water-colours."  (See  Memoirs  of  Thomas 
Uwins,  R.A.,  by  Mrs.  Uwins,  i.  30,  31.) 

1  Redgrave's  Dictionary.     Probably  J.  Melchior  Barralet,  who  taught  both  figure  and 
landscape.     ^ 

2  Other  owners  are  'Mr.  Alexander'  and  'J.  Laporte.' 

K  2 


132  THE    FOUNDING    OF  THE   SOCIETY  BK.  HI 

Lane.'  Some  of  the  plates  are  tinted  in  colours,  and  in  some  there 
are  monochrome  shadows,  put  in  by  hand  with  a  brush.  The  dates 
upon  them  are  from  I  January,  1802,  to  I  January,  1805.  Each  artist 
did  half  the  number.  Laporte's  are  drawn  with  greater  freedom  of 
hand  than  Wells's. 

Wells,  as  we  see,  was  about  thirteen  years  older  than  Turner  and 
Girtin.  Of  the  former  painter  he  was  a  lifelong  friend,  and  is  said  to 
have  shown  a  fatherly  kindness  towards  him.  Turner  was  about 
seventeen  years  of  age  (that  is  to  say,  it  was  about  the  year  1792) 
when  he  was  introduced  to  Wells  by  Robert  Ker  Porter.  The 
intimacy  so  commenced  will  be  ever  memorable  from  the  circum- 
stance of  Wells's  having  happily  suggested  to  the  great  painter  the 
first  idea  of  his  Liber  Studiorum,  and  induced  him  to  commence 
that  work,  the  four  earliest  drawings  for  which  (executed  in  sepia) 
were  made  at  Wells's  house  at  Knockholt  in  Kent.  There  is  an 
earlier,  and  also  interesting,  association  between  his  and  Turner's 
careers.  He  went  to  school  in  the  very  house  in  Queen  Anne  Street 
which,  afterwards  added  to  by  Turner,  was  occupied  by  that  artist 
for  so  many  years  as  a  studio  and  gallery,  and  where  the  great 
painter's  hoard  of  pictures  and  piles  of  prints  were  found  stored  up 
and  rotting  after  his  death  in  1851.  The  schoolmaster  was  a  Mr. 
Harper ;  but  the  fact  that  Turner  had  an  aunt  of  the  name  of 
Harpur  (his  mother's  elder  sister,  wife  of  the  curate  of  Islington,  who 
was  grandfather  of  Mr.  Henry  Harpur,  one  of  the  painter's  executors) 
may  be  no  more  than  a  coincidence.  Turner,  on  his  side,  is  known 
to  have  exhibited  marked  emotion  on  hearing  of  Wells's  death  in 
1836.' 

It  was  in  the  first  or  second  year  of  the  present  century  that 
Wells  '  endeavoured  to  stimulate  some  of  his  friends,  practitioners ' 
of  water-colour  art,  to  form  a  society  for  the  purpose  of  establishing 
an  independent  exhibition  of  their  paintings.  '  He  wrote,'  says  his 
daughter,2  '  a  very  excellent  letter,  which  was  printed  and  sent  to 

1  He  told  Wells's  daughter,  Mrs.  Wheeler,  that  he  thought  he  should  have  died  if  he 
had  not  been  relieved  by  a  violent  hemorrhage  at  the  nose.     Turner,  by  his  will,  left  a 
legacy  of  loo/,  to  each  of  Wells's  three  daughters.     A  story  related  by  Mr.  Ruskin,  in  his 
Lectures  on  Architecture  and  Painting,  that  Turner  lent  large  sums  to  Wells's  widow,  and 
refused   repayment,  saying,   '  Keep  it  and  send  your  children  to  school  and  to  church,'  is 
contradicted  by  a  correspondent  in  the  Athenizum,  10  June,  1854,  as  quite  inconsistent  with 
Wells's  known  condition  and  circumstances  of  life. 

2  A  Sketch  of  the  or  ginal  Foundation  of  the  old  Waier-Colour  Society,  privately  printed, 
by  Clara  Wheeler,  7  pages,  8vo,  1871. 


CH.  I       EXHIBITORS'  GRIEVANCES— WELLS  AND   SHELLEY        133 

all  the  principal  draftsmen  in  the  profession,  to  urge  the  necessity 
of  a  movement  in  that  direction.'  No  copy  of  this  letter  is  known 

to  exist,  but  its  motto — 

Our  doubts  are  traitors, 
And  make  us  lose  the  good  we  oft  might  win 
By  fearing  to  attempt — l 

seems  to  have  referred  to  a  timid  apprehension,  which  existed  in  the 
outer  ranks  of  the  profession,  of  offending  the  members  of  the 
Royal  Academy.  It  was  Wells's  endeavour  to  overcome  this  feeling, 
by  contending  that  the  desire  for  a  separate  exhibition  was  not 
prompted  by  a  spirit  of  antagonism  or  rivalry.  He  also  sent  many 
anonymous  letters,  written  by  the  same  daughter  (Clara,  afterwards 
Mrs.  Wheeler),  who  acted  as  his  private  secretary. 

A  fair  share,  however,  of  the  merit  of  conceiving,  as  well  as  calling 
into  existence,  the  first  society  for  the  exclusive  exhibition  of  water- 
colour  art,  should  be  apportioned  to  an  older  painter,  Samuel  Shelley, 
who  was  Wells's  first  coadjutor  in  the  scheme.  Each  had  urged  its 
practicability  in  separate  conversations  with  a  common  friend,  who 
thereupon  introduced  them  to  one  another,  and  they  then  proceeded 
to  discuss  the  matter  together. 

SAMUEL  SHELLEY,  a  quarter  of  a  century  older  than  Turner  and 
Girtin,  and  twelve  years  senior  to  Wells  (for  he  was  born  in  1750), 
could  not  be  considered  as  one  of  the  rising  school  that  had  effected 
such  changes  in  water-colour  art.  He  was  in  age  one  of  the  earlier 
generation,  but  he  represented  a  class  of  painting  in  that  medium 
which,  in  its  way,  suffered  nearly  as  much  by  the  Academy  arrange- 
ments as  did  the  water-colour  landscapes.  He  was  a  figure-painter, 
chiefly  celebrated  for  his  miniatures.  But  his  practice  was  not  con- 
fined to  the  making  of  likenesses  in  little.  In  truth,  he  had  not  much 
cause  to  complain,  of  his  treatment  as  a  portrait-painter.  The 
painting  of  miniatures,  being  an  old-established  branch  of  British  art, 
of  well-recognized  importance  long  before  the  Academy  came  into 
existence,  had  not  been  unfavourably  dealt  with  in  the  arrangements 
at  Somerset  House.  These  charming  little  effigies,  grouped  together, 
set  in  a  better  light,  rendered  attractive  by  their  own  delicate 
brilliancy,  as  well  as  by  their  subjects,  and  having,  as  everyone  knew, 
to  be  judged  on  close  inspection,  could  not  have  suffered  as  much 

1  Measure  for  Meamn,  act  i. ,  sc.  5. 


134  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

•  as  the  water-colour  landscapes  by  proximity  to  large  and  showy 
pictures  in  oil. 

From  a  small  beginning  and  an  obscure  origin,  Samuel  Shelley 
had  risen  to  a  place  in  the  front  rank  of  the  miniature-painters  of  his 
day,  at  a  period  of  great  excellence  in  that  branch  of  art,  having  for 
some  ten  or  twelve  years  past  shared  the  leading  practice  therein 
with  the  gay  and  eccentric  favourite  of  society,  Richard  Cosway,  R.A., 
and  the  King's  limner  in  small,  Richard  Collins. 

Dayes  tells  us  that  Shelley  was  born  in  Whitechapel,  and  was  in 
some  measure  self-educated,  but  that  he  founded  his  style  on  the 
works  of  Reynolds,  which  he  copied  early  in  life  to  his  great  ad- 
vantage. In  1773  we  find  him  living  'at  Mr.  Shelley's,'  probably 
his  father's,  in  '  High  Street,  Whitechapel,'  and  beginning  to  exhibit 
at  the  Incorporated  Society's  with  some  fancy  heads  in  miniature.  By 
the  next  year  he  seems  to  have  already  made  a  good  professional 
connection,  for  he  appears  at  the  Royal  Academy  with  portraits  of 
'  a  clergyman  '  and  '  a  nobleman's  three  sons ' — whose,  we  know  not, 
for  it  was  not  then  the  custom  to  insert  the  names  of  sitters  in  the 
general  catalogue,1  though  a  key  containing  them  was  published  and 
sold  separately.  In  1775  he  had  a  few  portraits  at  the  Exeter 
Change  gallery,  but  after  this  he  confined  himself  to  the  Somerset 
House  exhibitions.  In  1778  he  makes  a  first  move  westward. 
Leaving  Whitechapel,  where  he  had  still  hailed  from  '  Mr.  Shelley's  ' 
(or  '  Shelly's,1  for  the  name  is  spelt  both  ways  in  the  catalogues)  at 
Nos.  92,  24,  and  62  successively,  he  sets  up  for  himself2  'at  Mr. 
Fentum's,  No.  78  Salisbury  Street,  Strand.'  Creeping  on  year  by 
year  through  Litchfield  Street,  Soho,  King  Street,  Covent  Garden, 
No.  1 6,  and  Henrietta  Street,  ditto,  Nos.  20,  29,  and  7,  at  which  last 
address  he  remains  from  1784  to  1794,  he  finally  settles  in  the 
aristocratic  quarter  in  which  we  now  find  him,  at  No.  6  George3 
Street,  Hanover  Square,  where  stands  the  church  at  which  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  Tom  Girtin  were  married,  as  many  a  prouder  couple  have  been 
before  and  since. 

1  It  was  not  until  1798  that  names  were  given,  and  a  charge  (sixpence)  was  then  first 
made  for  the  catalogue. 

2  Possibly   these  are  only  business  addresses,  and   do  not  indicate  his  actual  places  of 
residence. 

3  In  this  Georgian  era  it  was  sometimes  called  '  Great  George  Street.'     It  is  not  clear  to 
which  noun  the  adjective  was  meant  to  apply. 


CH.  I       EXHIBITORS'    GRIEVANCES— WELLS   AND    SHELLEY         135 

During  this  time  he  had  been  painting  and  exhibiting,  not 
portraits  only,  but  what  Dayes  describes  as  '  history  in  small,'  which 
kind  of  practice  that  writer,  who  is  naught  if  not  censorious,  regards 
as  raising  Shelley  '  above  the  character  of  a  mere  miniature  painter,' 
and  placing  him  '  among  the  few  who  do  not  consider  the  profession 
in  a  mercenary  point  of  view.'  We  have  seen  that  his  first  venture 
in  public  was  an  ideal  head.  It  is  not,  however,  till  1780  that  we 
find  him  again  so  exercising  his  fancy  in  a  drawing  of  '  Maria,  from 
Sterne.' '  Two  years  after,  he  becomes  more  ambitious,  and  paints 
the  '  Witches  saluting  Macbeth.' 2  This  seems  to  have  had  an 
encouraging  success,  for  in  1783  he  has  as  many  fancy  pieces  as 
portraits  ;  and  then  he  goes  on  yearly  intermingling  illustrations  from 
poetic  fiction  with  likenesses  of  living  persons  more  or  less  distin- 
guished. Mr.  Graves  counts  up  140  works  in  all  exhibited  by  Shelley 
at  the  Royal  Academy. 

It  was  chiefly  in  these  subject  pieces  that  Shelley  encountered 
the  damaging  competition  with  oil-pictures  of  which  Wells  had 
complained  ;  and  subjects  painted  by  him  on  ivory  of  a  large  size 
had  been  accumulating  in  his  studio.3  Thus,  in  the  agitation  for  a 
separate  gallery,  he  could,  as  representing  the  figure  element  in 
water-colour  painting,  make  common  cause  with  that  artist,  who  spoke 
for  the  landscape  draftsmen. 

1  Another  Sterne's  Maria  by  a  different  hand  hung  near  it  in  the  exhibition.  A  Sterne's 
Maria,  by  Shelley,  was  sold  at  Christie's  in  February  1885  for  6/.  15^. 

*  Of  this  subject,  there  is  a  miniature  on  ivory  by  him  at  the  South  Kensington 
Museum. 

3  R.  Hills— J.  J.  J.  MSS. 


I36  THE   FOUNDING   OF  THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 


CHAPTER    II 

HILLS,  PYNE,  AND  POCOCK 

Robert  Hills — Birth  and  education — Works  at  Royal  Academy— Ardour  in  sketching  — 
Etchings  begun— Takes  pupils— Drawings — W.  H.  Pyne— Birth  and  education— Pars's 
school — Works  at  Royal  Aacademy — Etchings  and  illustrations— Social  qualities  — His- 
torian and  narrator—  Instability  of  purpose — Plan  of  proposed  society — Survey  of  pro- 
fession—  Nicholas  Pocock — Birth  and  parentage  —  Commands  Champion's  vessels — 
Sketches  at  sea — Settles  in  London — Early  works— Paints  sea-fights— Portrait  by  son. 

SHELLEY  had  two  sympathetic  friends  in  the  profession,  nearly 
twenty  years  younger  than  himself,  who  lived  close  by,  and  were 
probably  greater  sufferers  than  he.  One  was  Robert  Hills,  painter,  in 
water-colours,  of  animals  and  rustic  scenes  ;  who  lived  but  two  doors 
off,  at  No.  8.  The  other  was  William  Henry  Pyne,  already  mentioned, 
and  often  quoted  in  these  pages,  a  writer  indeed  to  whom  all  historians 
of  English  water-colour  art  must  be  indebted  for  much  of  their  informa- 
tion. He  lived  two  doors  further  on,  at  No.  10.'  In  converse  with 
these  near  neighbours,  Shelley  aired  his  grievances,  and  the  three  had 
many  a  chat  together  on  the  matter  at  their  respective  firesides. 

ROBERT  HILLS  was  born  in  Islington  on  the  26th  of  June,  1769. 
Although  thirty-four  at  the  time  now  under  consideration,  he  does 
not  seem  to  have  come  much  before  the  public  yet  as  a  water-colour 
painter  of  animals.  He  had  exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy  a 
'  Wood  Scene  with  Gipsy  Fortune-tellers,'  in  1791,  and  a  '  Landscape' 
in  1792,  giving  as  his  address,  first  '  Keppel  Row,'  then  Alsop's 
Buildings,  New  Road.  His  name  then  disappears  from  the  catalogues 
for  seven  years,  turning  up  again  in  1800,  in  '  Upper  Grafton  Street, 
Fitzroy  Square,'  as  exhibitor  of  a  first  '  Cottage  Scene,  with  Cattle.1 
In  1 80 1,  he  has  a  view  of  the  gate  of  St.  Augustine's,  Canterbury  (a 
favourite  subject  that  season),  and  he  puts  in  the  animals  to  two 
drawings  by  Pyne,  namely  a  view  in  Greenwich  Park,  and  a  Wilt- 

1  R.A.   Catalogue,    1801.      Autograph  letter,    I   November,   1802.     By   1805  he  had 
mo%-ed  to  38  Argyll  Street,  not  far  off. 


CH.  II  HILLS,   PYNE,   AND   POCOCK  137 

shire  farmhouse  with  cattle.  With  these  exceptions,  we  do  not  find 
his  name  as  an  exhibitor  before  the  foundation  of  the  Water-Colour 
Society. 

Some  early  instruction  in  drawing  had  been  given  him  by  the  old 
teacher,  John  Gresse,  before  mentioned,  who  for  many  years  gave 
lessons  at  Mrs.  Broadbelt's  school  in  Queen  Square,  Bloomsbury, 
where  young  Hills  was  probably  a  scholar.  '  But  it  is  certain  that  he 
soon  found  a  wiser  master  in  the  force  of  his  own  inclination,  which  led 
him  to  the  study  of  animal  life  in  the  forest,  the  farmyard,  and  the  pas- 
ture, sketching  with  untiring  zeal,  deer,  oxen,  sheep  and  cattle,  singly 
and  in  groups,  in  great  variety,  or  in  observing  their  habits  under  the 
varied  influences  of  the  seasons.  His  careful  studies  of  the  heads, 
horns  and  bones  of  the  different  species  testify  to  the  pains  he  took 
to  master  the  distinctive  features  and  exact  structure  of  animal 
form.' ' 

He  was  in  his  way  a  keen  deerstalker,  but  his  sport  consisted  in 
recording,  not  in  destroying,  animal  life.  When  out  on  such  expedi- 
tions, and  absorbed  in  an  object  of  such  keen  interest  to  him,  he 
would  show  the  determination  of  his  character.  It  is  related  that  on 
one  of  these  occasions  '  he  suddenly  came  upon  a  magnificent  stag,  of 
which  he  resolved,  if  possible,  to  secure  a  sketch.  Like  a  sportsman 
sighting  his  game,  he  stealthily  followed  the  track  of  the  retreating 
animal  deeper  and  deeper  into  the  recesses  of  the  forest,  and  only  gave 
up  the  pursuit  when  evening  was  closing  in,  to  realize  the  fact  that  he 
had  not  tasted  food  the  whole  day,  and  had  many  weary  miles  to 
retrace  before  he  could  procure  any  refreshment.' l 

Although  so  little  of  Hills's  work  had  appeared  on  the  exhibition 
walls,  he  had  already  justified  his  later  reputation  by  giving  to  the 
world,  as  the  result  of  his  out-of-door  studies  of  animal  life,  the 
first  instalments  of  a  remarkably  fine  series  of  etchings,  which,  issued 
in  parts,  had  commenced  in  1798,  and  were  now  in  course  of  publica- 
tion. It  is  probable  also  that  he  had  become  engaged  in  tuition, 
which  was  afterwards  to  him,  as  to  so  many  of  our  best  water-colour 
painters,  a  regular  source  of  emolument. 

Hills's  pencil  studies  and  sketches  of  animals  and  rustic  scenes 
are  of  extreme  beauty.  There  can  be  no  better  models  of  practice  in 
the  handling  of  his  material  as  a  means  of  expression.  The  late  Mr. 
George  Smith,  of  Hamilton  Terrace,  had  a  large  collection  of  them. 

1  J.  J.  J.  MS. 


138  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  UK.  in 

There   are   a    few  at   the  British    Museum,  some   dated    1801    and 
1802. 

WILLIAM  HENRY  PYNE  was  born  in  the  same  year  (1769)  as 
Robert  Hills.  According  to  Redgrave,1  he  was  the  son  of  a  leather- 
seller  in  Holborn  ;  and  the  same  biographer  states  that  his  father 
placed  him,  when  a  boy,  under  a  clever  drawing-master,  whom  he 
disliked,  and  would  not  serve  as  an  apprentice.  From  Pyne's  own 
account,  as  editor  of  the  Somerset  House  Gazette,  this  would  seem  to 
have  been  one  Henry  Pars  (he  calls  him  '  William '),  elder  brother  of 
of  William  Pars,  A.R.A.  From  about  1763  to  the  time  of  his 
death  in  1806  at  the  age  of  seventy-two,2  this  teacher  kept  a  drawing 
academy  well  known  in  its  day,  which  had  been  founded  by  a  painter 
called  William  Shipley  (also  the  main  originator  of  the  Society  of  Arts), 
to  whom  Pars  succeeded  at  the  date  first  mentioned.  It  was  carried 
on  in  a  house  in  the  Strand,  which  afterwards  became  a  portion  of 
Ackermann's  Repository  of  Arts.  Here,  says  the  writer,  '  for  one 
short  season  we  attempted  the  use  of  black  and  white  chalks.' 3  For 
copying  plaster  casts  from  the  antique  seems  to  have  been  the  limit 
of  the  practice  at  Pars's  school,  whither  at  that  time  students  went  to 
be  prepared  for  '  St.  Martin's  Lane.' 4 

Leaving  this  scrap  of  autobiography  to  be  further  elucidated  as  it 
may,  we  tread  on  surer  ground  when  searching  the  Royal  Academy 
catalogues  for  Pyne's  exhibited  works.  From  1790  to  1801  he  had  at 
intervals  been  exhibiting  drawings,  twenty  in  all,  coming  for  the  most 
part  under  the  category  of  Landscape.  But '  he  possessed  one  great 
advantage  over  most  of  his  contemporaries  who  treated  similar 
subjects,  in  the  ability  with  which  he  introduced  figures  and  animals 
into  his  landscapes,  so  as  to  render  them,  not  mere  accessories,  but  of 
positive  interest.'  s  In  the  titles  of  his  first  year's  drawings,  indeed, 
figures  are  set  forth  by  the  titles  as  the  acknowledged  principals. 
'  Travelling  Comedians,'  '  Bartholomew-fair,' '  A  Puppet-show,'  and  '  A 
Village  with  figures  merry-making,'  are  the  congenial  subjects  with 
which  he  breaks  ground  in  1790  and  1791.  After  this  they  are 
chiefly  rural  views,  in  various  English  counties ;  with  a  few,  such  as 

1  Dictionary  of  the  English  School.  *  Redgrave's  Dictionary. 

3  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  221. 

*  Gilchrist's  Life  of  Blake,  \.  8,  9.    Redgrave,  in  his  Dictionary  (<  Henry  Pars,'  '  William 
Shipley ')  seems  to  confound  the  Strand  school  with  the  senior  Academy. 

*  Art  Union,  October  1843. 


CH.  II  HILLS,    PYNE,   AND    POCOCK  139 

'  Corn  Harvest,'  '  Gipsies  in  a  Wood,' '  Anglers,'  and  '  A  Conversation,' 
which  give  a  hint  that  the  figures  constitute  the  main  source  of 
interest.  In  1801,  he  and  neighbour  Hills  join  brushes  to  produce 
two  works  in  combination,  and  then  both  abstain,  while  they  and 
their  fellow-conspirators  are  hatching  their  plot. 

But  Pyne,  like  Hills,  had  also  given  evidence  of  his  talent  by  a 
use  of  the  etching  point.  There  are  said  to  exist  three  large  plates 
by  him  of  figure-groups  for  decorating  landscapes,  published  by 
Ackermann,  in  a  wrapper,  with  the  date  i/pi.1  And  there  may  be 
more  of  that  early  time.  There  is  also  a  book  called '  Nattes's  Practi- 
cal Geometry,  or  an  introduction  to  Perspective,  translated  from  the 
French  of  Le  Clere,  with  additions  and  alterations,'  which  has  a 
vignette  title-page  engraved  by  W.  H.  Pyne  after  a  design  by  C. 
Nattes,  with  the  imprint  '  Pubd  &c.  for  J.  C.  Nattes  by  W.  Miller, 
Albemarle  Street,  1805.'  A  second  edition,  in  8vo,  is  dated  1819. 
It  is  curiously  illustrated  with  forty-four  other  plates  containing 
geometrical  diagrams,  under  each  of  which  is  a  vignette  etched  by 
Pyne  '  from  designs  analogous  to  the  different  geometrical  figures,'  the 
subjects  being  such  as  the  following  :  a  horse-mill,  windmill,  water  con- 
duit and  carts,  kilns,  pumps,  cranes  and  other  machines,  with  figures 
about  them  appropriately  employed  as  wheelwrights,  printers,  wood- 
men, sawyers,  brickmakers  and  other  artisans  at  work  ;  and  pic- 
turesque objects  and  groups  of  various  kinds.  Many  of  these  are 
signed  '  W.  H.  Pyne.  1 803.' 

At  this  time  he  must  also  have  been  actively  engaged  in  putting 
together  the  varied  contents  of  a  work  which  when  complete  was 
published  in  two  volumes  oblong  folio,  with  the  title, '  Microcosm,  or  a 
Picturesque  Delineation  of  the  Arts,  Agriculture,  Manufactures  &c. 
of  Great  Britain,  in  a  series  of  above  a  thousand  groups  of  small 
figures  for  the  embellishment  of  landscape,  comprising  the  most  inte- 
resting subjects  in  rural  and  domestic  scenery,  in  external  and  internal 
navigation,  in  country  sports  and  employments,  in  the  arts  of  war 
and  peace ;  the  whole  accurately  drawn  from  nature,  and  etched  by 
W.  H.  Pyne,  and  aquatinted  by  J.  Hill — to  which  are  now  added 
explanations  of  the  plates,  and  essays  relating  to  their  various  subjects 
by  C.  Gray.  .  .  .  Pubd  by  W.  H.  Pyne,  No.  38  Argyle  Street,  and 
J.  C.  Nattes,  No.  5  Woodstock  Street,  &c.'  Vol.  i.  (2nd  edit,  dated 
1806)  contains  61  plates,  and  vol.  ii.  71.  The  imprints  on  the  plates 

1   Bookseller's  Catalogue. 


140  THE    FOUNDING   OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  ill 

have  dates  from  March  1802  to  1807.  Other  series  of  plates  of  the 
same  class  by  him  belong  to  a  later  date. 

A  few  groups  like  those  of  the  Microcosm  are  at  the  British 
Museum.  In  them  the  pen  is  used  neatly  (without  the  freedom  and 
dash  of  a  dexterous  sketcher  such,  for  example,  as  Rowlandson),  and 
some  are  composed  with  much  taste.  There  is  a  drawing  by  him  at 
South  Kensington  of  '  Rustic  Cottages '  with  the  date  1806  ;  '  painted 
in  transparent  colour,  lights  taken  out,  and  some  opaque  colour 
used.' ' 

The  writer  of  an  obituary  notice  of  Pyne  in  the  Art  Union  of 
October  1843,  who  seems  to  have  known  him  well,  considers  him  to 
have  been  '  in  many  respects  the  beau  ideal  of  the  artistic  character — 
disinterestedly  devoted  to  art  for  its  own  sake,  even  to  enthusiasm, 
yet  unfortunately  for  himself  not  gifted  with  the  enthusiasm  of 
application.  A  sort  of  constitutional  easiness  and  happy  tempera- 
ment of  mind  rendered  him  more  indifferent  to  worldly  success,  even 
in  his  profession,  than  was  consistent  with  prudence.  Otherwise  he 
might  no  doubt  have  distinguished  himself  as  one  of  the  first  water- 
colour  painters  of  the  day,  especially  in  familiar  rural  landscape 
scenery  and  topographical  views  with  old  buildings,  which  he  either 
sketched  or  composed  with  great  facility,  and  with  admirable  feeling." 
The  same  writer  gives  him  the  credit  of  having  '  in  some  instances 
invented,  in  others  improved  upon '  the  processes  which  transformed 
the  tinter's  art  into  water-colour  painting.  But  we  do  not  find  him 
making  any  such  claim  on  his  own  behalf.  He  had  begun  in  the  old 
manner.  '  In  his  early  works,'  says  Redgrave,  '  his  foregrounds  are 
carefully  drawn  with  the  pen  and  tinted  with  warm  colour,  his  middle 
distances  put  in  with  grey.'  But  he  was  now  one  of  those  who  most 
clearly  appreciated  the  importance  of  the  change  which  had  taken 
place  in  the  technique  of  water-colour  art.2 

Pyne  himself,  however,  has  been  more  widely  recognized  as  the 
historian  of  that  art,  than  as  one  of  its  leading  practitioners.  Of  his 

1  Descriptive  Catalogue,  175- 

2  Graves,  in  his  Index,  describes  the  twenty-two  works  which  Pyne  exhibited  at  Somerset 
House  between  1790  and   1811  as  being  chiefly  'portraits;'   a  description  which  in  fact 
applies  to  no  more  than  two,  which  he  exhibited  in  the  last  of  those  years,  he  then  having 
had  nothing  at  the  Academy  since  1801.     Pyne  no  doubt  was  a  versatile  artist,  and  could  turn 
his  hand  to  portraiture  when  he  chose.     John  Britton  the  antiquary  had  two  drawings  of  his, 
one  representing  '  The  Beefsteak  Club,'  the  other  '  The  Sale  of  Dr.  Mead's  Pictures  and 
Antiques,'  both  with  portraits,  and  said  to  be  capital  illustrations  of  the  time.     See  also 
Britton's  Autobiography,  Part  II.  p.  183. 


CH.  II  HILLS,   PYNE,  AND   POCOCK  14i 

literary  works  there  will  be  occasion  to  speak  more  fully  by-and-by. 
Suffice  it  at  present  to  say  that  in  their  lively,  unclassic  style,  and  the 
fund  of  anecdote  they  contain,  they  bespeak  the  writer's  turn  for 
gossip,  as  well  as  a  certain  instability  in  his  character.  '  Gossip,'  says 
his  biographer  above  quoted, 'was  at  once  his  forte  and  his  foible. 
He  was  not  so  remarkable  for  conversational  as  for  narrative  power. 
No  one  could  tell  a  story  better  or  more  graphically.  Anecdote 
would  beget  anecdote  and  story  story  from  him,  during  an  entire 
evening,  to  the  immense  gratification  of  his  auditors,  but  to  the 
suspension  of  other  conversation.  He  has  been  known  to  go  out  to  a 
breakfast  party,  and  by  entertaining  to  detain  all  the  company  till  one 
o'clock  the  following  morning.  But  this  talent  was  dearly  paid  for, 
by  his  indulging  it  too  far,  to  the  sacrifice  of  time,  and  the  interrup- 
tion of  study  that  might  have  been  more  profitable.  Another  foible 
in  him  was  want  of  steadiness  in  his  pursuits.  He  was  always  pro- 
jecting some  scheme  or  other,  some  of  them  very  chimerical  ones,  as 
to  whose  success  he  was  for  the  time  most  sanguine  until  a  fresher 
one  started  up  out  of  his  prolific  imagination.' '  This  was  the  kind 
of  man  to  espouse  with  warmth  the  cause  of  the  slighted  draftsmen  ; 
and  he  now  bent  his  energies  to  the  task  in  hand  of  securing  fair 
play  to  their  profession.  If  the  above  account  of  him  is  to  be  relied 
on,  he  must  have  ruled  the  discussions  in  George  Street,  Hanover 
Square. 

The  nature  of  those  discussions  may  be  in  a  measure  inferred 
from  the  protocol  of  regulations  for  the  Society,  which  was  their 
eventual  outcome.  The  reformers  were  soon  agreed-  as  to  the  evils 
that  existed,  and  as  to  the  proper  remedy  to  be  applied.  It  was 
conceived  that,  given  the  materials  of  an  attractive  exhibition,  a  mode 
might  be  devised  for  an  equitable  distribution  among  the  members 
of  any  surplus  which  should  arise  from  the  excess  of  the  receipts  at 
the  doors  over  the  annual  expenses  of  rent,  advertisements,  money  and 
check  takers,  upholsterers  &c.  The  members'  shares  in  such  distribu- 
tion were  to  be  proportioned  to  '  the  capital  they  had  thrown  in  of 
labour  and  also  frames  and  glasses.  Another  prominent  feature  in 
the  first  sketch  for  a  plan  and  constitution  was  suggested  by  the 
reflection  that  when  a  work  at  the  Royal  Academy,  through  its  own 
merits  and  the  advantage  of  a  good  place,  had  attracted  the  notice  of 
a  lover  and  patron  of  art,  there  had  still  been  an  impediment  to  its 

1  Art  Union,  October  1843. 


142  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  ill 

sale  in  the  awkwardness  of  backing  out  of  the  artist's  house  when 
the  price  asked  was  deemed  too  much,  or  perhaps  finding  that  it  was 
already  sold.  A  clerk  in  the  exhibition  room  with  a  book  containing 
the  prices  of  all  those  paintings  sent  for  sale,  ready  to  answer 
inquiries  and  to  take  deposits,  would  give  the  artist  a  much  better 
chance  for  customers  than  he  would  have  at  the  Royal  Academy ;  as, 
on  the  other  hand,  if  a  would-be  purchaser  asked  the  prices  of  twenty 
works  by  the  same  hand  or  by  as  many  different  artists,  and  found 
that  every  one  according  to  his  opinion  had  been  overrated,  he  would 
have  paid  his  shilling  for  looking  at  them,  and  owed  not  even  a  hint 
of  apology  for  having  purchased  nothing.' ' 

But  the  preliminary  difficulty  had  first  to  be  encountered  by  the 
projectors  of  obtaining  a  sufficient  number  of  adherents  to  the  good 
cause.  Of  the  old  leaders  of  the  school  most  had  passed  away  or 
were  hors  de  combat.  The  elder  Cozens,  Barret,  Gainsborough,  were 
long  since  dead.  They  had  been  followed  in  the  last  decade  of  the 
old  year  by  Webber,  Grimm,  Tom  Sandby,  William  Marloiv,  and 
John  Cozens.  Thomas  Malton  (the  elder),  Michael  Rooker,  and 
Wheatley,  all  died  in  1801,  and  James  Malton  in  1803.  Before  the 
scheme  was  to.  be  accomplished,  Thomas  Malton  (the  younger),  and 
poor  Dayes  were  to  go  too,  both  in  1804.  In  their  midst,  the  bright 
flame  of  young  Girtiris  genius  had  burst  forth,  and  in  1802  expired. 
Hale  old  Paul  Sandby  was  living  yet,  in  sunny  St.  George's  Row. 
But  his  sum  of  winters  approached  fourscore  ;  and  he  and  Hearne, 
now  in  his  sixtieth  year,2  were  to  be  reckoned  as  veterans  of  the  old 
generation,  not  as  reformers  of  the  new.  There  were  Loutlierbourg, 
aged  sixty-three,  Farington,  fifty-six,  and  Thomas  Daniell,  fifty-four,  all 
of  whom  had  practised  more  or  less  in  water-colour.  But  they  were 
in  the  Academy.  The  splendid  talent  of  Turner  was  inaccessible 
for  the  same  reason.  But  there  were  a  number  of  rising  men,  and 
others  that  had  attained  eminence,  who  favoured  the  project.  It  was 
believed  that  their  works,  brought  together,  would  form  an  exhibition 
not  only  attractive  to  the  public,  but  remunerative  to  the  artists. 
'  Shelley,  besides  his  popularity  from  miniature  portraits,'  had,  as  before 
mentioned,  '  a  collection  of  subjects  on  ivory  of  a  large  size.  Glover 'of 
Lichfield  had  started  and  was  in  vogue.  J.  Varley  was  a  man  of 

1  R.  Hills.     MS. 

2  Hearne  died  on  '  April  13,  1817,  and  was  buried  by  his   friend  Dr.  Monro  in  Bushcy 
churchyard.'     (Redgrave's  Dictionary.}     The  publication  of  the  'Antiquities'  plates  con- 
tinued till  1806. 


Cil.  II  HILLS,    PYNE,    AND    POCOCK  143 

acknowledged  talent.  There  were  still  Nicholson,  Cristall,  and 
others.' ' 

And  among  the  older  painters  of  acknowledged  repute  there  was 
at  least  '  Warwick '  Smith  who  had  declared  himself  favourable  to 
the  scheme.  With  his  name  it  seemed  to  be  feasible.  But,  friend 
though  he  was,  he  was  also  cautious  not  to  commit  himself  to  a  share 
of  certain  expenses  and  uncertain  advantages.  He  promised  re- 
peatedly to  attend,  but  as  often  failed  to  do  so — '  playing,'  as  Hills 
describes  his  conduct,  '  She  would  and  she  would  not.'  Others  were 
shy  of  the  undertaking  for  the  same  reason,  others  again  from  a 
dread  of  hopeless  exclusion  from  the  Royal  Academy  in  case  of 
failure.  The  utmost  hope  of  the  projectors  had  been  that  they  might 
muster  twenty  names  to  start  with ;  but  from  the  above  causes  the 
accomplishment  of  their  plans  was  delayed  (reckoning  from  the  time 
of  Wells  and  Shelley's  first  conception)  for  nearly  three  years.  It 
was  not  until  the  autumn  of  1804  that  ten  artists  could  be  got 
together  to  mould  the  concern  into  a  definite  shape. 

Some  of  the  six  recruits  were  men  of  weight  and  distinction.  The 
oldest  in  years  was  Nicholas  Pocock.  He  was  chiefly  a  marine  painter. 
It  was  very  desirable  to  have  a  branch  of  art  of  such  living  interest 
in  that  age  of  naval  warfare  adequately  represented  in  the  exhibi- 
tion, apart  from  the  valuable  element  of  variety  which  it  would  impart. 
Pocock  was  an  artist  of  position,  deservedly  in  high  esteem.  Though 
one  of  the  now  antiquated  school  of  stainers  and  tinters,  he  has  been 
reckoned  '  among  the  first  to  rescue  his  art  from  the  dominion  of  out- 
line by  blending  softness  and  aerial  perspective  with  force  of  effect.' 2 

NICHOLAS  POCOCK  was  born  about  1741,  and  consequently 
sixty-three  or  so  when  our  Society  was  formed.  His  knowledge  of 
marine  matters  was  derived  from  actual  experience  as  a  sailor,  he 
having  when  a  young  man  had  the  command  of  vessels  owned  by 
Mr.  Richard  Champion,  a  Bristol  merchant.  It  was  the  same  Richard 
Champion  who  afterwards  took  to  making  china,  and  became  cele- 
brated as  the  producer  of  the  fine  porcelain  known  as  Bristol  ware. 
Redgrave 3  tells  us  that  Pocock's  father  was  himself  a  merchant  of 
that  city  and  a  man  of  good  descent.  But  he  seems  to  have  left  his 
family  somewhat  ill  provided  for.  Champion's  sister  writes  of 
'Captain  Nicholas  Pocock,  who  commanded  the  Lloyd'  (in  April 
1  R.  Hills.  MS.  *  J.  W.  Papworth.  MS.  «  Dictionary  of  the  English  School.  ' 


i44  THE   FOUNDING   OF  THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

1767),  as  a  'young  man  who  had  been  some  time  in'  that  ship- 
owner's '  employ,  one  of  three  brothers,  whose  mother  was  a  widow 
supported  by  this  son.  He  was,'  she  adds,  '  much  caressed  by  my 
brother,  and  valued  by  us  all ; '  and  she  speaks  of  his  having  unusual 
good  sense  and  diffidence,  which  made  him  duly  conscious  of  a  lack 
of  hiVh  educational  culture.  In  the  intervals  when  he  was  not  at 

o 

sea  he  spent  much  of  his  time  at '  Mr.  Champion's,  and  never  seemed 
happy  but  when  there.' 

Pocock  sometimes  talked  of  giving  up  his  sailor's  life,  to  enable 
him  to  indulge  his  fine  taste  for  drawing.  When  at  sea  his  graphic 
talent  was  in  constant  exercise.  '  Six  volumes  of  journal,  fair  copied, 
and  illustrated  with  charming  drawings  in  Indian  ink  of  the  principal 
incident  in  each  day,  are '  or  were  '  in  the  possession  of  Champion's 
grandsons.  Some  of  the  subjects  are  very  artistic,  and,  though 
necessarily  on  a  small  scale,  are  always  interesting.  A  gale,  a  calm, 
a  vessel  spoken  or  a  sail  in  sight,  or  some  object  strange  or  new  that 
arrested  attention,  never  failed  to  be  recorded  by  his  facile  pencil. 
Having  commanded  the  Lloyd,  and  afterwards  the  Minerva,  for  some 
years,  he  carried  his  early  resolutions  into  effect,'  by  leaving  the  sea 
and  taking  to  the  fine  arts  as  a  profession.1  He  was  then  about 
thirty  years  of  age. 

Redgrave  says,2  '  He  drew  portraits,  landscapes,  and  sea-pieces, 
devoting  himself  chiefly  to  marine  subjects,'  and  that  '  in  1780  Sir 
Joshua  Reynolds  wrote  him  an  encouraging  letter,  criticizing  his  first 
picture  in  oil,  which  had  arrived  at  the  Academy  too  late  for  ex- 
hibition.' His  first  exhibited  works  were  in  1782,  when  he  sent  four  to 
Somerset  House.  Two  were  portraits  of  ships,  and  two  were  views  in 
or  near  Bristol.  From  that  time  he  became  a  frequent  exhibitor,  and 
'  many  an  early  sketch  of  scenery  in  South  Carolina  and  the  West 
India  islands  was  turned  to  account.'  A  fine  early  picture  from  his 
pencil,  representing  '  Earl  Rodney's  victory  over  De  Grasse 3  in  the 
West  Indies,  I2th  April,  1782,'  is  in  the  possession  of  the  Bristol 
Society  of  Merchants.  It  was  engraved  in  line  by  Francis  Chesham, 
and  published  by  Walker,  148  Fleet  Street,  I  March,  1784,  the 
above  society  subscribing  ten  guineas  towards  the  expense. 

1  Hugh  Owen's  Ceramic  Art  in  Bristol (1873),  P-  49- 

1  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

1  There  is  a  large  picture  by  Pocock  at  Greenwich  of  a  previous  repulse  of  the  French 
under  De  Grasse  in  the  same  year,  by  Sir  Samuel  Hood's  fleet,  which  took  place  at  St. 
Kill's  in  January  1782. 


CH.  II  HILLS,    PYNE,   AND    POCOCK  145 

In  1789  Pocock  left  Bristol,  where  he  had  hitherto  continued  to 
reside,  and  settled  in  London.  He  had  then  married  a  wife,  and 
begun  to  rear  a  family.  Soon  he  rose  to  distinction  as  a  painter  of 
naval  engagements,  for  which  the  long  struggle  for  mastery  at  sea 
that  followed  the  declaration  of  war  with  France  in  1793,  gave  him 
only  too  ample  a  supply  of  subjects.  Since  1796  Pocock  had 
resided  at  No.  12  Great  George  Street,  Westminster,  where  he  en- 
joyed an  extensive  acquaintance  with  admirals  and  commanders  of 
the  navy.  He  had  also  in  his  visiting  circle  some  of  the  theatrical 
celebrities  of  the  day,  including  the  Kemblcs  and  Mrs.  Siddons. 

A  fine  portrait  of  him  by  his  son  Isaac,1  who  had  already  esta- 
blished himself  as  a  figure  painter,  represents  Nicholas  Pocock  as  of 
gentle  aspect,  with  large  dark  eyes,  generally  handsome  features,  and 
a  sensible  expression. 

1  Isaac  Pocock,  besides  being  a  painter,  was  also  a  dramatic  author.  He  wrote  the  once 
popular  melodrama  'The  Miller  and  his  Men.'  There  is  a  caricature  portrait  of  N.  Pocock 
in  A.  E.  Chalon's  drawing  of  '  Artists  in  the  IJritish  Institution,'  engraved  in  the  Portfolio, 
Nov.  1884,  p.  219. 


146  THE   FOUNDING    OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 


CHAPTER   III 

NICHOLSON 

Francis  Nicholson— Autobiography — Birth  and  education — Want  of  sympathy — With 
Beckwith  at  York— With  a  copyist  at  Scarborough— At  Pickering — Paints  horses,  dogs 
and  game — Patrons  —  First  visit  to  London — Paints  seats  and  portraits — At  Whitby — 
Takes  to  landscape— Mode  of  multiplying  sketches— Exhibits  in  London— At  Knares- 
borough — Fraudulent  copies — Visit  to  Lord  Bute  in  Scotland— At  Ripon — Draws  for 
Walker's  magazine — Travels  with  Sir  H.  and  Lady  Tuite — Settles  in  London — Engaged 
in  teaching — Power  of  water-colours — '  Stopping-mixture' — Two  impostors — Society  of 
Arts  and  the  drawing-masters. 

THE  next  recruit  was  also  past  mid-age.  He  was  an  able  landscape 
painter,  whose  works  contribute  to  form  some  of  the  stronger  links 
that  unite  the  old  school  with  the  new,  namely  the  Yorkshire  artist 
before  mentioned,  '  Francis  Nicholson.' 

Nicholson  lived  to  a  grand  old  age,  and  died  in  1844,  long  after 
the  events  we  are  now  about  to  relate.  In  the  latter  end  of  his  life 
he  drew  up  for  his  children's  gratification  '  some  account,'  as  he 
styled  it, '  of  my  various  employments  during  a  period  of  eighty  years 
and  upwards,  the  time  having  been  passed  in  my  practice  of  the 
arts.'  After  the  writer's  death  his  son-in-law,  the  late  Mr.  T.  Crofton 
Croker,  F.S.A.,  had  entertained  the  idea  of  printing  the  contents  of 
this  manuscript  for  circulation  among  friends.  But  this  was  not 
done,  and  after  some  ten  or  twelve  years  had  elapsed  it  was  thought 
by  the  family  that  these  autobiographical  sketches  would  not  prove 
of  sufficient  general  interest  to  justify  their  publication.  Happily, 
however,  Mr.  Jenkins  was  favoured  with  a  manuscript  copy,  from 
which  most  of  the  facts  about  to  be  related  are  taken,  often  in  the 
words  of  the  original.  At  the  time  when  these  notes  were  put 
together  their  author  may  have  been  right  in  assigning  to  them  no 
more  than  a  private  interest,  on  the  ground  that  the  events  described 
were  '  what  thousands  of  people  before  him  must  have  been  equally 
subject  to  in  following  the  same  pursuits.'  But  the  very  fact  of  their 
possessing  this  generic  character  gives  them  value  in  such  a  history 


CH.  ill  NICHOLSON  147 

as  the  present,  as  affording  a  type  of  professional  life  during  the 
period  to  which  they  refer.  In  making  use  of  Nicholson's  memoranda 
for  the  following  account  of  his  earlier  career,  the  present  compiler 
has  therefore  abstained  from  trimming  too  closely  their  margin  of 
extraneous  matter. 

FRANCIS  NICHOLSON  was  born  on  the  1 4th  of  November,  1753, 
at  Pickering  in  Yorkshire,  '  where,'  says  Redgrave,  '  his  family 
possessed  a  small  property.'  On  his  own  evidence  he  was  an  in- 
dustrious, painstaking  lad,  who,  notwithstanding  a  manifest  penchant 
or  the  pencil,  would  not  suffer  a  good  school  training  to  be  thrown 
away  upon  him.  His  practice  in  drawing  began  very  early  in  life, 
the  first  attempt  being  a  sketch  of  a  ship  made  with  a  piece  of 
chalk  upon  his  '  Reading-made-easy.'  '  My  cousin,  George  Kirby," 
says  he, '  who  sat  next  to  me  on  the  same  form,  having  done  one  on 
his  own  book,  I  thought  surely  I  could  do  that  or  anything  that  he 
could  do.'  From  the  preparatory  school  where  this  incident  oc- 
curred he  was  sent  to  a  secondary  one  to  learn  writing  &c.  Here 
his  first  attempts  were  not  encouraging.  He  was  called  an  awkward 
dog,  that  would  never  be  good  for  anything.  But  the  master  who 
said  so  changed  his  opinion,  and  became  proud  of  showing  off  the 
boy's  progress  in  arithmetic  and  in  drawing,  prognosticating  that  he 
would  be  another  '  Cozens,  who  went  to  London  and  became  a 
famous  draftsman.'  This  must  mean  Alexander  Cozens,  and  tends 
to  show  the  repute  that  artist  enjoyed. 

Middle-class  education  in  Yorkshire  seems  to  have  stood  pretty 
high  even  in  the  early  days  of  King  George  the  Third's  reign,  for  young 
Nicholson  was  but  ten  years  old  when,  in  1763,  he  was  entered  at 
the  principal  school  in  Pickering  'for  instruction  in  arithmetic,  geometry, 
trigonometry,  astronomy,  &c.  This,'  he  adds, '  was  the  last  of  my 
schooling ;  and  although  a  great  part  of  what  I  had  acquired  could 
never  be  of  much  use  to  me,  I  did  not  consider  the  whole  time  lost, 
as  I  could  work  my  questions  and  have  time  to  draw  also.  I 
remember  once  the  master  was  angry  and  rebuked  me  for  doing  too 
much ;  I  being  in  decimals  and  applying  for  questions  so  often  that 
he  lost  patience,  saying,  "  Put  it  down,  put  it  down  !  If  I  am  to  set 
questions  as  fast  as  you  can  work  them,  I  shall  have  no  time  for 
anybody  else.  Shut  up  your  book  for  the  day."  ' 

When  the  boy's  school  days  were  over,  and  it  became  necessary  to 
settle  his  course  of  life,  it  was  found  that  he  had  acquired  a  bent  for 


148  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

graphic  art  too  strong  to  be  resisted.  Nicholson  dates  his  determi- 
nation to  be  an  artist  from  the  year  1760  (he  was  then  but  seven), 
when,  happening  to  be  sent  on  an  errand  and  being  shown  into  a  room 
to  await  an  answer,  he  cast  his  eye  upon  a  portrait  that  hung  there 
— '  a  portrait,'  he  says, '  I  shall  never  forget,  nor  what  passed  in  my 
mind  respecting  it,  thinking,  if  I  ever  attained  the  power  of  doing 
anything  like  that,  there  was  nothing  in  the  world  I  should  wish  for, 
or  be  disturbed  by,  notwithstanding  the  increasing  complaints  of 
the  hardness  of  the  times  and  the  difficulty  of  gaining  a  subsistence.' 

But  the  poor  fellow  found  himself  in  an  unsympathetic  world, 
among  people  who  had  not  an  idea  beyond  methods  of  tillage  and 
the  succession  of  crops.  Such  subjects  were  fluently  discussed 
around  him,  but  he  could  not  attend  to  what  was  said  or  retain  it  in 
his  mind,  and  so  came  to  the  sad  conclusion  that  he  differed  from 
the  rest  of  his  species.  His  father  regarded  the  exercise  of  the 
pencil  as  an  idle  amusement,  and  did  his  best  to  wean  him  from  such 
a  pursuit.  After  leaving  school,  therefore,  our  young  artist  was  reduced 
to  drawing  by  stealth.  But  he  had  a  kind  aunt,  who  furnished  him 
with  materials,  and  secreted  him  in  a  little  back  parlour,  where  he 
employed  himself  in  copying  prints.  The  son  speaks  tenderly  of  his 
parent's  natural  prejudice  in  preferring  '  a  good  regular  trade  of  any 
kind  whatever '  to  '  a  precarious  fancy  employment.'  '  In  that,'  says 
he, '  he  was  not  singular,  the  father  of  my  friend  Jackson  '  being  of 
the  same  mind.  When  many  of  his  friends  endeavoured  to  prevail 
on  him  to  allow  his  son  to  follow  his  inclination,  it  was  long  before 
he  could  be  brought  to  consent  to  it.  Dr.  Harrison,  of  Kirby 
Moreside,  his  strong  advocate,  laboured  hard  to  convince  the  old 
man  how  much  better  his  son  would  do  as  an  artist  than  he  could 
ever  hope  to  see  him  do  by  continuing  to  follow  his  own  trade ;  but 
he  ever  replied,  "  He  is  as  good  a  tailor  as  ever  sat  on  a  shop-board, 
and  how  can  he  do  better?":  Nicholson's  father  did  not  remain 
obdurate,  and  when  he  at  length  consented  to  his  son's  wish  had  the 
good  sense  to  be  as  desirous  to  give  him  every  assistance  in  his 
power  as  he  had  before  been  to  obstruct  him.  There  was  no  artist 
nearer  than  York,  and  even  there  but  one,  whose  name  was  Beckwith. 
With  him,  therefore,  young  Nicholson  was  left  for  a  month  on  trial. 
If  the  result  should  be  satisfactory,  he  was  to  be  apprenticed  for  seven 

1  The  portrait  painter,  John  Jackson,  R.A.,  born  at  Lastingham  in  the  North  Riding 
of  Yorkshire,  31  May,  1778. 


CH.  in  NICHOLSON  149 

years.  Mr.  Bcckwith  approved  of  the  student's  copy  of  an  outline 
of  a  head  which  was  placed  before  him  to  see  what  he  could  do — 
'  approved  of  it,  perhaps,  too  well,'  says  Nicholson,  '  as  it  afterwards 
appeared.  Though  it  was  very  little  that  I  knew,'  he  adds,  'yet 
I  could  perceive  that  he  was  but  a  poor  performer,  but  (his  being 
the  only  instruction  to  be  had)  was  very  willing  to  be  placed  with 
him.  In  the  month  of  trial  he  painted  a  small  whole-length  portrait 
of  a  gentleman.  The  picture  seemed  to  me  bad,  having  no  effect, 
cutting  in  every  part  hard  against  the  background,  as  though  the 
figure  had  been  put  on  by  stencilling.  I  perfectly  remember  the 
feet ;  the  shoes  being  black  all  over,  and  not  foreshortened  so  as  to 
appear  standing  upon  the  floor,  but  like  an  elongated  ace  of  spades. 
So  the  figure  stood  upon  the  points  of  his  toes.  Yet  the  likeness 
in  the  face  was  obtained,  which  was  the  main  point.  The  sitter  was 
dressed  in  white  cotton  stockings,  which  Mr.  B.  objected  to,  as  they 
would  catch  the  eye,  and  he  prevailed  upon  him  to  allow  himself  to 
be  hosed  in  blue  worsted.'  Poor  as  Mr.  B.'s  painting  was,  he  could 
talk  about  it  fluently  enough ;  and  when  Nicholson  called  upon  him 
some  years  afterwards,  he  found  him  somewhat  severe  on  the  drawing 
of  Sir  Joshua.  The  proposed  apprenticeship  broke  down,  however, 
on  grounds  unconnected  with  art.  Good  motherly  Mrs.  Nicholson, 
on  coming  to  see  her  boy,  found  out  by  shrewd  questioning  that  he 
was  poorly  fed,  and  had  to  eke  out  his  repasts  by  spending  his 
pocket  money  at  the  baker's,  and  that  the  apprentices  were  still 
worse  off,  having  to  eat,  instead  of  good  brown  bread,  a  coarse  con- 
fection known  by  the  name  of '  Roger.' 

Her  husband  in  the  mean  time  learned  from  a  fellow-townsman, 
one  Mr.  Stockton,  then  established  at  York  as  a  chemist,  that 
Beckwith  wanted  to  have  a  clause  inserted  in  the  indenture  by  which 
the  apprentice  should  be  debarred  from  exercising  his  profession  in 
that  city.  Mr.  Nicholson  sagaciously  inferred  that,  if  the  master 
were  already  afraid  of  his  pupil,  he  would  never  fulfil  his  duty  as  an 
instructor,  but,  on  the  contrary,  do  his  best  to  keep  him  back.  So 
the  young  artist  was  taken  home  again,  very  unwillingly  on  his  part, 
though  he  had  ever  after  great  reason  to  be  thankful  for  the  escape 
from  a  sacrifice  of  seven  good  years  of  his  life. 

His  parents  now  turned  to  Scarborough  as  affording  the  only 
chance  of  help.  There  was  a  nearly  self-taught  painter  there,  who 
had  received  some  instruction  from  a  crony  of  his,  a  clever  but  eccentric 


i$o  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  m 

travelling  artist  called  Smirke.  This  Smirke  had  been  induced  by 
one  of  his  countrymen  to  leave  Carlisle,  his  native  place,  and  come  to 
Scarborough  with  his  son,  in  the  hope  of  finding  good  employment 
there  in  the  spare  season.  Failing  to  do  so,  he  went  to  London,  and 
there  apprenticed  his  son  to  Bromley  the  coach-painter  in  Long  Acre. 
The  son  afterwards  distinguished  himself  as  a  subject-painter,  being 
no  other  than  Robert  Smirke,  R.A.,  himself  the  father  of  a  family  of 
artists.  As  the  Smirk es  are  known  to  have  come  to  London  in  1766, 
this  gives  us  an  approximate  date  for  these  events.  Young  Nicholson 
may  have  been  about  thirteen  when  he  went  to  this  Scarborough 
painter  for  tuition  in  art. 

'  My  instructor,1  he  writes  (without  telling  his  name),  '  never 
painted  an  original  subject,  but  succeeded  very  well  as  a  copyist,  and 
had  done  several  from  good  old  masters.  He  copied  a  Guido,  the 
size  of  the  original,  as  well  as  most  artists  would  have  done  it ;  the 
subject  being  the  daughter  of  Herodias  bearing  on  a  charger  the  head 
of  John  the  Baptist.  He  painted  every  kind  of  subject,  but  his 
favourite  was  the  horse,  he  having  in  his  youth  been  a  racing  jockey. 
He  always  maintained  that  he  never  saw  a  picture  he  could  not  copy ; 
which  I  think  he  would  have  done  passing  well.  But  he  never  had 
confidence  to  attempt  more.' 

After  being  three  years  at  Scarborough,  young  Nicholson  returned 
to  Pickering  to  get  what  employment  he  could.  The  prospect  was 
not  very  bright.  '  In  my  commencement,'  he  writes,  '  I  lost  much 
time,  being  confined  by  circumstances  during  many  years  in  a  part  of 
the  country  where  works  of  art  were  scarcely  to  be  found,  and  among 
a  people  utterly  unable  to  appreciate  such,  if  they  had  possessed 
them.'  But  as  there  were  in  the  neighbourhood  several  resident 
gentlemen,  '  nearly  the  whole  being  what  are  called  sportsmen,' 
young  Nicholson  was  employed  to  paint  the  portraits  of  favourite 
horses,  dogs,  dead  game,  &c.  Of  the  last  he  had  good  opportunities 
of  painting  from  nature.  Often,  when  these  gentlemen  killed  game 
in  a  high  state  of  beauty  and  fine  plumage,  it  was  sent  to  him  for 
study.  Occasionally  he  had  a  human  sitter  for  a  portrait ;  and  he 
found  himself  comfortable,  not  only  in  having  a  good  home,  but  kind 
friends.  The  chief  of  these  was  Thomas  Hayes,  Esq.,  a  magistrate 
in  the  neighbourhood,  at  whose  house  the  young  artist  was  always 
welcome.  A  bed  and  a  place  at  the  table  were  his  when  he  was 
there,  and  he  would  stay  for  weeks,  and  nearly  at  all  times  when  he 


CH.  Ill  NICHOLSON  151 

had  no  other  engagements.  Of  this  hospitable  patron  he  made 
several  portraits,  and  he  also  painted  those  of  Mrs.  and  Miss  Hayes. 
'  I  have,'  he  writes, '  a  duplicate  of  his,  and  prize  it  next  to  that  of  my 
good  and  kind  aunt.' 

Nicholson  had  another  much  valued  friend  in  Mr.  Blomberg,  a 
descendant  of  Baron  Blomberg,  who  came  over  with  George  the  First, 
and  settled  at  Kirby  Misperton,  near  Pickering.  For  him  he  painted 
several  pictures,  one  of  which,  of  dead  game,  was  recognized  long 
after  by  his  brother,  who  also  used  the  brush,  and  did  the  house- 
painting  for  the  Rev.  Dr.  Blomberg,  into  whose  possession  the 
property  had  come  on  the  death  of  Nicholson's  patron.  '  You  seem 
to  like  that  picture,'  said  the  Doctor,  observing  that  he  was  gazing 
upon  it  one  day  when  he  came  to  inspect  his  men's  work.  '  It  is  a 
great  favourite  of  mine.  I  have  no  doubt  it  is  an  original,  but  so 
different  from  everything  I  have  seen  of  the  same  subject,  I  cannot 
make  out  whom  it  is  by,  and  should  like  very  much  to  know.'  '  I 
can  inform  you  of  that,'  said  the  decorator ;  '  it  was  painted  by  my 
brother,  when  he  lived  with  the  rest  of  the  family  at  Pickering,  and 
he  painted  many  more  of  the  same  kind  for  gentlemen  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood.' '  I  should  like  to  know,'  writes  the  artist, '  whether  Dr.  B. 
continued  to  view  it  as  a  favourite,  or,  what  is  more  likely,  sent  it  up 
into  the  garret.' 

Mr.  Blomberg  also  employed  him  to  take  portraits  of  his  dogs,  a 
task  which  gave  him  some  trouble,  by  reason  of  the  unwillingness  of 
some  of  them  to  stand  a  steady  gaze.  An  enormous  house-dog  of 
the  Newfoundland  breed  was  induced  to  sit  to  him  twice,  but  never 
would  come  in  his  sight  again  if  he  could  avoid  it ;  always  taking 
himself  off  to  the  house  of  a  tenant,  where  he  would  stay  a  few  days. 
If  at  his  return  the  artist  with  the  evil  eye  were  gone,  he  remained  at 
home  ;  if  not,  he  trotted  back.  The  same  was  the  case  with  several  of 
the  larger  breeds.  A  favourite  pointer,  whose  portrait  he  tried  to  take 
in  the  dining-room,  fairly  bolted  through  the  window  to  avoid  being 
stared  at.  '  But  at  terriers,  harriers,  or  mongrels,'  says  Nicholson, '  I 
might  have  stared  myself  blind  without  their  notice.'  Thus  he  fagged 
on  for  about  two  years,  all  the  time  hating  the  country,  '  where  little 
was  to  be  seen  and  nothing  to  be  heard  worth  listening  to,'  and  still 
feeling  that  he  was  like  nobody,  and  nobody  like  him. 

At  last  the  long-wished-for  time  arrived  when  it  was  deemed 
necessary  to  send  him  to  London  for  further  instruction.  There, 


152  THE   FOUNDING   OF    THE   SOCIETY  UK.  lit 

entering  a  new  world  of  sympathy,  he,  to  his  astonishment  and 
delight,  met  with  hundreds  of  people  like  himself,  who  neither  knew 
nor  cared  more  about  agriculture,  cattle,  manure,  and  tillage  than  he 
did.  '  The  Exhibition  '  being  open  (it  must  have  been  the  Royal 
Academy  in  its  old  rooms  in  Pall  Mall),  he  found  '  plenty  of  subjects 
for  study.'  But  it  is  curiously  illustrative  of  our  proverbial  contempt 
for  things  familiar,  that  at  that  time  Nicholson,  afterwards  best  known 
for  excellence  in  rural  landscape,  nurtured  as  he  was  among  the  very 
scenes  that  were  to  inspire  the  poetic  feelings  of  a  Turner  and  a 
Girtin,  besides  a  host  of  lesser  artists,  should  add  the  following 
confession :  '  One  class  was  little  attended  to.  When  the  finest 
landscapes  of  Wilson,  Barret,  and  others  were  pointed  out  to  my 
notice,  I  only  said,  "  I  hate  to  look  at  them,  they  are  so  like  the 
country."  ' 

While  in  London,  Nicholson  took  some  lessons  from  Metz,  '  a 
German  artist  who  drew  the  figure  extremely  well,'  who  procured  for 
him  several  good  pictures,  which  he  copied,  one  in  particular, '  Jason 
destroying  the  Dragon,'  by  Salvator.1  Smirke  also,  with  whom  he 
became  acquainted,  being  frequently  with  him  at  Bromley's,  procured 
for  him  from  different  friends  several  pictures  to  copy. 

After  about  seven  months  in  London,  being  unable  to  obtain 
means  of  recruiting  his  now  exhausted  funds,  he  had  to  return  to  the 
country,  disliking  it  more  than  ever.  When  he  gets  back  to  Yorkshire 
he  begins  the  same  kind  of  practice,  out  of  which  we  have  already 
seen  so  much  of  the  school  of  water-colour  landscape  to  have  taken 
its  rise.  In  addition  to  the  favourite  horses  and  dogs  which  had  con- 
stituted the  only  subjects  which  the  country  gentlemen  had  called 
upon  him  to  paint,  he  now  mentions  a  demand  for  '  views  about  their 
places  of  residence.'  There  being  no  one  else  to  paint  these  subjects, 
the  whole  fell  to  Nicholson's  share.  After  a  good  deal  of  such  practice 
he  was  able  to  get  nine  more  months  in  London,  during  which  he 
'  did  many  things,'  and  then,  returning  to  Pickering,  found  employ- 
ment as  before.  He  now  for  the  first  time  speaks  of  making  what 
were  probably  water-colour  drawings.  '  At  Scampston,  the  seat  of 
Sir  William  St.  Quintin,  I  made  for  him  a  set  of  drawings  of  the 

1  '  Many  years  afterwards,'  adds  Nicholson,  '  being  settled  in  London,  I  was  engaged  to 
give  lessons  in  drawing  to  Miss  Smith,  a  daughter  of  Mr.  Smith,  many  years  M.P.  for  the 
county  of  Norfolk.  He  had  collected  many  excellent  pictures.  One  of  them  was  the  Jason 
I  had  copied.' 


CH.  ill  NICHOLSON  153 

house  and  grounds — another  for  the  Lord  of  the  Manor,  Mr.  Hill,  of 
his  seat  and  grounds  ;  also  several  pictures  in  oil  of  his  horses  and 
dogs.  From  the  best  of  my  friends,  Mr.  Hayes,  I  had  employment 
of  several  kinds,  and  painted  for  him  the  ceiling  of  a  large  summer- 
house  in  his  garden,  filled  with  mythological  figures.  The  subject  is 
the  triumph  of  Britannia.  This  employed  me  7  or  8  months.  If  I 
could  see  it  now,  it  would  doubtless  be  with  a  desire  to  brush  it  out.' 
He  also  painted  portraits  when  he  could  get  a  sitter.  That 
Nicholson  had  some  of  the  social  tact  essential  to  a  successful  career 
in  this  line,  is  evinced  in  the  following  amusing  account  of  the  sittings 
he  received,  about  this  time,  from  a  certain  Captain  H.  Clarke.  One 
day  this  gentleman  observed  how  unfortunate  he  had  been  in  sitting 
to  thirteen  different  artists,  not  one  of  whom  succeeded  in  producing 
a  likeness.  His  features  were  marked,  and  he  had  a  dark,  florid 
complexion.  '  Not  apprehending  any  difficulty,'  says  Nicholson, '  I 
was  desirous  to  try,  and  proposed  to  take  a  couple  of  sittings  for  a 
head  only.  If  that  proved  satisfactory  I  would  paint  a  half-length. 
This  he  agreed  to.  At  the  first  sitting  it  was  clear  enough  why  he 
never  had  a  likeness  from  any  of  the  thirteen,  he  being  not  only  a 
very  bad  sitter,  but  having  a  nervous  twitching  of  the  face  like  Mathews 
the  late  professor  of  trickery.  He  would  start  up  to  object  to  this  as 
too  dark,  that  too  red,  &c.  In  short  he  did  everything  except  taking 
the  pencils  from  me  and  painting  himself.  I  was  now  certain  that 
nothing  could  be  done  unless  I  bestowed  upon  him  a  very  flattering 
complexion.  On  my  assurance  that  he  should  be  perfectly  satisfied, 
he  was  prevailed  upon  to  give  me  a  second  sitting.  The  likeness 
having  been  got  sufficiently  to  enable  me  to  proceed  with  the  half- 
length,  it  was  begun,  and  the  head  considerably  advanced,  before  a 
further  sitting  was  required.  He  approved  of  the  very  nice  complexion 
given  to  him,  and  the  work  went  on  smoothly.  When  finished,  it  was 
thought  very  like.  He  took  every  means  to  be  satisfied  that  it  was 
so,  by  showing  it  to  everybody  who  came  to  the  house.  I  never  heard 
but  one  critical  remark.  It  was  from  a  man  who  said  it  was  very 
like,  yet  he  thought  there  was  something  or  other  about  the  cheek 
not  quite  right.  The  critic  having  been  many  years  Captain  Clarke's 
barber  and  hairdresser,  was  doubtless  a  competent  judge  of  that  part. 
Soon  I  had  the  pleasure  of  seeing  it  splendidly  framed  and  hung  in 
his  dining-room.'  Another  of  Nicholson's  sitters  would  hardly  be 
pleased.  On  seeing  the  work  of  the  first  sitting,  he  called  out,  '  Why, 


154  THE    FOUNDING    OP  THE    SOCIETY  BK.  Ill 

it  squints  ! '  'I  assured  him,'  says  the  painter,  '  that  he  was  mistaken, 
and  that  it  squinted  no  more  than  he  did,  which  was  true.  It  did  not 
squint  half  as  much.' 

In  1783,  Nicholson,  then  thirty  years  of  age,  went  to  Whitby,  with 
the  intention  of  staying  there  to  get  such  employment  as  might  be 
offered.  He  had  been  induced  to  try  the  place  by  the  Captain  Clarke 
above  mentioned,  who  could  be  of  service  to  him  in  that  locality. 
There  he  painted  several  portraits,  and  there  he  took  unto  himself  a 
wife.  There  too,  at  length,  in  the  Mulgrave  woods,  his  mind  was 
opened  to  the  charms  of  picturesque  scenery,  and  from  that  time  he 
became  the  Francis  Nicholson  known  to  students  of  water-colour 
landscape.  Recalling,  in  old  age,  the  scenes  wherein  he  then  made  for 
Constantine,  Lord  Mulgrave,  a  collection  of  sketches  of  the  ruins  of 
the  old  castle,  the  modern  mansion,  grounds,  &c.,  he  writes :  '  The 
place  is  very  picturesque  ;  the  old  castle  standing  on  an  elevated  ridge 
having  a  deep  ravine  on  each  side  well  wooded,  and  about  the  bottom 
rocky.  Through  the  eastern  dell  a  rivulet  runs  over  a  rocky  bed, 
dashing  about  very  beautifully.  At  the  end  of  this  ravine  is  a  corn 
mill,  and  immediately  below  it  a  large  and  well-formed  group  of  rocks, 
all  as  they  had  fallen  naturally,  being  far  too  massive  to  be  placed  arti- 
ficially." Barret  and  Wilson  would  surely  no  longer  have  been 
distasteful  to  him  as  reminders  of  the  country. 

At  Whitby  he  works  hard,  beginning  with  the  daylight,  and  sitting 
sixteen  hours  a  day,  and  many  times  a  great  part  of  the  night. 
Perhaps  indeed  his  art  would  have  been  the  better  for  more  sketching 
from  nature,  and  less  of  midnight  oil.  But  he  has  found  his  vocation 
as  a  landscape  draftsman,  and  is  bent  on  securing  a  market  for  works 
which  he  can  produce  in  quick  succession.  There  was  not  much  to 
be  got  from  the  Whitby  public,  but  at  Scarborough,  '  during  the  spaw 
season,'  his  drawings  had  a  ready  sale.  And  going  several  times  to 
London  by  sea,  he  found  connections  there  also,  and  obtained 
unlimited  orders  for  as  many  drawings  as  he  could  furnish.  The 
shrewd  Yorkshireman  had  a  cunning  way  of  keeping  his  wares  in 
request.  '  My  plan  was,'  said  he, '  to  have  two  strings  to  my  bow, 
being  by  that  means  independent ;  and  say  to  the  country  people, 
"  If  you  do  not  like  what  I  have  done,  it  is  very  well ;  I  can  readily 
dispose  of  it  in  London."  There,  on  the  other  hand,  I  could  at  any 
time  say,  "  If  you  are  not  satisfied  with  what  is  offered,  let  it  alone ; 
it  will  be  sold  in  the  country.'"  Nicholson  had  also  at  this  time  a 


CH.  HI  NICHOLSON 


'55 


canny  method  of  multiplying  his  works.  '  For  Scarborough,'  he 
writes,  '  I  manufactured  an  incredible  number  of  drawings.  My 
process  was  by  etching  on  a  soft  ground  the  different  views  of  the 
place,  from  which  were  taken  impressions  with  black  lead.  This 
produced  outlines  so  perfectly  like  those  done  by  the  pencil,  that  it 
was  impossible  to  discover  any  difference.  This  was  nearly  half  of 
the  work,  and  in  the  long  days  of  summer  I  finished  them  at  the  rate 
of  six  daily.1 

After  working  thus  at  Whitby  for  nine  years,  during  which  we  find 
him  beginning  also,  from  1789,  to  send  drawings  to  the  London 
exhibitions,  he  made  an  excursion  to  Knaresborough,  and  was  so 
much  delighted  with  the  place  that  he  determined  to  remove  to  it  on 
the  next  quarter  day,  and  did  so  accordingly  ; '  tenanting  a  house 
which  his  pleasant  description  may  serve  to  identify  if  it  still  exists. 
It  was,  he  says,  '  in  a  most  beautiful  situation,  the  front  facing  the 
river,  and  separated  from  it  only  by  the  breadth  of  the  road.  The 
opposite  bank  of  the  river  was  rising  ground  and  closely  wooded 
down  to  the  water.  Through  this  plantation  a  long  gravelled  walk  was 
formed  from  the  upper  [side  ?]  on  the  Harrowgate  Road  passing  the 
back  of  the  dripping  rock  to  the  lower  bridge.  From  this  place,  to 
a  public  house  said  to  have  been  the  residence  of  the  Yorkshire 
sibyl  Mother  Shipton,  a  path  was  formed  leading  to  the  foot  of  the 
rock.  From  the  front  of  my  house  the  view  to  the  right  was  up  the 
river ;  to  the  left,  a  high  rock,  most  perpendicular,  well  wooded  in  the 
parts  about  the  bottom  ;  and  upon  the  summit  the  ruins  of  the  castle. 
The  only  unsightly  [object]  in  the  view  down  the  river  was  a  huge 
cotton  mill,  which  in  my  drawings  was  always  removed,  and  a  former 
old  corn  mill  restored  to  its  place.  Probably,'  he  adds,  '  it  may  be 
down  ere  now,  as  we  learn  by  the  depression  of  trade  the  place  is 
nearly  ruined,  and  that  good  houses  may  be  had  for  next  to  nothing.' 

Nicholson  had  good  friends  at  Knaresborough,  among  whom  he 
mentions  Dr.  Garnet  and  Mr.  Broadbelt,  but  no  actual  patrons.  He 
declared  that,  after  staying  there  upwards  of  three  years,  spending 
his  money  in  the  place,  he  had  never  received  the  value  of  a  shilling 
from  any  person  in  it  in  return.  His  market  was  at  Harrogate. 
He  had  three  or  four  frames  of  drawings  always  on  view  in  the 
reading-room  of  the  bookseller  there.  When  a  drawing  was  sold,  it 
was  taken  out  of  the  frame  and  replaced  by  another.  From  Harro- 
1  This  would  be  about  the  year  1 792,  when  he  was  thirty-nine. 


156  THE    FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

gate  he  had  numerous  visitors,  sometimes  three  or  four  at  his  door  in 
the  course  of  the  morning,  and  several  of  them  brought  him  employ- 
ment. 

Thus  he  became  conspicuous  enough  to  be  worth  stigmatizing  for 
his  independence  of  character.  Having  refused,  though  called  upon 
by'two  of  the  chief  magistrates  of  the  district,  Sir  Thomas  Slingsby 
and  Justice  Watson,  to  support  a  war  of  which  he  did  not  approve, 
by  subscribing  for  blankets  for  the  Duke  of  York's  army  in  Holland, 
he  was  publicly  denounced  by  the  former  as  a  '  rank  Jacobin.'  '  Being 
no  more  a  Jacobin,'  he  said, '  than  Sir  T.  himself ;  and  knowing  how 
people  of  his  caste  were  terrified  by  the  name  of  a  Jacobin,  however 
obscure,  I  was  rather  pleased  than  otherwise.  I  therefore  had  small 
cause  to  care  for  them,  from  Sir  T.  down  to  the  parish  beadle.' 

Nicholson's  manner  of  drawing  was  now  sufficiently  known,  and 
his  works  were  in  such  repute  that  it  was  thought  worth  a  dealer's 
while  to  pass  off  copies  of  them  for  originals,  the  supply  thereof  to 
the  metropolis  not  being  equal  to  the  demand.  In  or  about  1793, 
when  he  was  residing  at  Knaresborough,  a  friend,  Mr.  Carr,  a  merchant 
at  Leeds,  informed  him  that  he  had  seen  in  a  frame-maker's  window 
in  London  two  or  three  palpable  copies  of  drawings  by  him.  On 
Mr.  Carr's  remonstrating  with  the  man  who  had  exposed  them  for 
sale,  the  dealer  admitted  that  when  the  artist's  original  drawings  were 
sent  to  him  to  be  framed,  he  set  people  to  make  copies  of  them.  He 
should  be  very  glad,  he  said,  to  get  originals  ;  but  that  Nicholson, 
having  come  into  possession  of  considerable  property,  now  worked 
very  little.  On  another  occasion,  Nicholson  himself  was  shown  by 
Archdeacon  Markham  at  York  a  stranger's  drawing, on  a  mount  with 
his  own  autograph  at  the  back.  His  drawing  had  been  removed  by 
some  fraudulent  person,  and  a  copy  substituted.  Thus  tricks  of  the 
trade  are  not  all  of  recent  date. 

It  is  not  always,  however,  that  a  copy  is  inferior  to  the  original. 
Nicholson  once  saw  in  a  shop  window  in  Maddox  Street  a  copy  of  a 
drawing  of  his  of  the  Dripping  Rock  at  Knaresborough,  which  he 
preferred  to  his  own  work,  and  would  have  bought  had  it  been  for 
sale  ;  but  it  was  only  sent  there  to  be  framed.  He  describes  it  as 
exactly  similar,  but  richer  and  more  highly  finished  in  the  details  ;  the 
foreground  plants  in  particular  being  made  out  so  as  to  satisfy  a 
botanist,  while  the  effect  and  breadth  of  every  part  were  preserved. 

Among  the  visitors  from  Harrogate  came  a  distinguished  patron, 


CH.  in  NICHOLSON  ,57 

Lord  Bute.  Being  at  the  time  in  great  trouble  on  the  death  of  his 
eldest  son,  Lord  Mountstuart,  by  a  fall  from  his  horse,  he  seems  to 
have  found  relief  in  quietly  watching  our  artist  at  his  easel.  '  He 
came,'  says  Nicholson,  '  almost  daily  from  thence  in  the  morning,  and, 
sitting  by  me,  was  amused  by  seeing  my  work  go  forward,  never 
taking  up  my  attention  nor  interrupting  me  in  it.  He  usually  stayed 
through  the  day,  until  his  dinner  hour,  when  he  returned  to  Harrow- 
gate.'  Finally  Lord  Bute  took  all  the  drawings  done  under  his 
inspection,  and  engaged  Nicholson  to  go  to  the  Isle  of  Bute  and 
make  sketches  of  a  set  of  views  in  various  parts  of  the  island.  His 
account  of  this  trip  must  be  related  as  nearly  as  possible  in  the  artist's 
own  words : — 

'  My  route  to  the  island,'  he  writes, '  was  made  out  for  me.  I  was 
to  go  to  Glasgow ;  from  thence  to  Greenock,  where  I  should  get  a 
passage  in  a  packet  going  daily  to  Bute. 

'  I  was  landed  at  Rothsay,  the  port  of  Bute,  where  I  immediately 
became  an  informer  and  reformer.  On  my  arrival  at  Mountstuart, 
Lord  B.  inquired  if  the  journey  had  been  pleasant.  I  told  him  :  "  It 
was  so  until  I  got  to  Greenock,  afterwards  not  so."  On  his  asking 
why  it  was  not,  I  told  him  :  "  On  engaging  a  passage  from  thence, 
the  captain  directed  me  to  be  on  board  at  two  o'clock.  In  the  mean- 
time I  made  a  sketch.  I  might  have  done  more,  for  on  going  at  the 
appointed  time,  I  found  the  vessel  hard  aground,  and  the  captain 
could  not  possibly  sail  at  the  time  he  appointed,  or  any  other  until 
she  floated,  which  was  not  before  six.  Upwards  of  twenty  passengers 
were  on  deck,  where  we  were  compelled  to  remain  through  the  night. 
There  was  no  shelter  of  any  kind,  the  vessel  being  filled  with  goods 
up  to  the  top  of  the  companion  ladder.  However,  we  suffered 
nothing,  the  night  proving  favourable."  Lord  Bute  rang  the  bell,  and 
on  the  appearance  of  a  servant,  asked  if -Mr.  May  (the  steward)  was 
in  the  house.  Being  told  he  was,  he  desired  to  see  him.  He  inquired 
of  Mr.  May :  "  What  share  have  I  in  the  Rothsay  packet  ? "  I 
forget  what  the  answer  was  ;  but  he  told  him  to  fit  out  another  vessel 
directly,  for  without  competition  the  public  could  never  be  well 
served. 

'  Lord  Bute  went  with  me  about  the  island  and  port  to  select 
subjects.  At  Rothsay  he  was  pestered  by  apparently  one  of  the 
chief  people,  who  solicited  him  for  assistance  towards  the  repair  of 
the  pier,  observing  it  would  be  a  very  pleasant  walk  whenever  his 


ijfc  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  UK.  in 

lordship  might  come  down  to  the  port.  His  lordship  looked  very 
gruff,  and  pointing  out  a  long  row  of  trees  on  the  beach,  with  a  shady 
walk  under  the  branches,  replied  as  gruffly :  "  Do  you  think,  while 
there  is  such  a  place  as  that,  I  should  be  such  a  fool  as  to  walk  on  a 
bare  and  exposed  stone  wall  ? "  The  man  slunk  back  and  looked 
rather  foolish. 

'  When  I  had  made  a  number  of  sketches  on  the  island,  Lord 
Bute  had  a  revenue  cutter  brought  up  the  Clyde  to  Mountstuart, 
where  we  embarked,  coasting  and  sketching  among  the  other  islands 
in  the  Clyde.  It  then  appeared  that  Lord  Bute  had  another  object 
in  view,  which  was  to  raise  recruits  for  the  Government.  Being  off 
Arran,  Mr.  May  went  on  shore,  returning  the  next  morning.  He 
told  his  lordship  that  he  had  been  unsuccessful,  and  not  able  to 
procure  a  single  man.  Lord  Bute  said :  "  Won't  money  tempt  them  ? " 
"  Not  at  all,"  was  the  answer,  and  that,  to  avoid  compulsion,  many  of 
the  inhabitants  were  preparing  to  leave  the  country.' 

Our  artist  had  been  greatly  pleased  with  the  scenery  of  Bute.  He 
found  it  to  '  abound  with  subjects  for  the  pencil  ;  always  with  grand 
objects  in  the  distance  ;  Goatfell,  the  wildest  part  of  the  Isle  of 
Arran,  being  only  nine  miles  from  Bute  ;  the  forms  very  grand,  and  in 
that  climate  so  distinctly  seen  that  the  breadth  of  the  water  between 
them  seemed  to  be  not  more  than  two  or  three  miles.' 

Soon  after  his  return  from  Scotland,  Nicholson  removed  from 
Knaresborough  to  Ripon,  the  scenery  about  which,  with  Studley 
Royal  and  Fountains  Abbey,  seems  to  have  had  a  special  charm  for 
him. 

There  was  a  strolling  company  of  comedians  that  used  to  make 
their  circuit  in  that  part  of  the  country,  staying  from  six  to  eight 
weeks  at  each  station  in  succession,  and  Ripon  was  one  of  their 
stations.  Nicholson  chanced  to  make  acquaintance  with  one  of  the 
musicians  attached  to  the  company,  named  William  Tayleure ;  and 
finding  that  he  was  very  fond  of  drawing,  kindly  told  him  that,  as 
he  had  all  the  day  at  his  disposal,  being  wanted  in  the  orchestra  at 
night  only,  he  might,  if  he  would  apply  himself  diligently  to  the  art, 
not  only  have  any  of  his  own  works  to  copy,  but  the  benefit  of  all 
the  instruction  he  could  give  him.  The  offer  was  gladly  accepted, 
and  Tayleure  worked  very  closely  in  the  two  or  three  seasons  during 
which  Nicholson  continued  to  reside  at  Ripon.  What  became  of 
this  aspirant  will  appear  in  the  sequel. 


CH.  in  NICHOLSON  159 

From  Ripon,  Nicholson  made  excursions  through  Wensleydale 
and  the  lesser  dales  opening  into  it  on  each  side  ;  also  to  Swaledale, 
Wharfedale,  Malham,  &c.,  and  Brimham  rocks.  He  had  already 
furnished  a  few  drawings  to  the  Walkers  for  their  '  Copper  Plate 
Magazine,'  the  first  of  the  plates  from  them  being  dated  i  Aug. 
1792.  Among  them  is  a  view  of  Ripon,  published  I  Aug.  1793, 
but  this  must  have  been  executed  while  he  still  hailed  from  Knares- 
borough.1 

While   residing   at    Knaresborough   he   had   formed   a   valuable 
acquaintance  with  Sir  Henry  and  Lady  Tuite,  an  Irish  couple,  who 
were  staying  at  Harrogate,  having   left  their  estate  near  Mullingar 
in   consequence    of    the    disturbed   state    of  West    Meath.      With 
them   he   made   the   tour   of  the    English    Lakes,   and    for   several 
years  passed  a  considerable  time  in  various  places,  never  idly,  but 
always  working  as  at  home.     '  I  was  with  them,'  he  says,  '  about  two 
months  at  Bath  ;   in  the  next  year  a  longer  time  at  Clifton  ;    next 
in  Wimpole   Street,  London,  and  in  the  following   year   in    Lower 
Grosvenor  Street.'     Sir  Henry  he  describes  as  an  ardent  pedestrian 
when   on   his   travels,  and  'as    kind-hearted   a  gentleman   as   ever 
crossed  the    Irish  Channel,  exceedingly  good-tempered,  and  at   all 
times  the  same.'      Nicholson  did  not  get  on  quite  so  well  with  her 
ladyship,   who   induced   him   to   remove   to   the   neighbourhood   of 
London,  and  become  tenant  of  a  house  and  garden  at  Weybridge, 
adjoining  and   included  in  a  purchase  which  the  Tuites  had  made 
there  for  their  own  residence.     The  Nicholsons  were  to  have  it  rent- 
free,  with  mutton  at  cost  price  killed  on  the  estate,  and  divers  other 
advantages.      These   privileges,   however,   either   proved  illusory  or 
were  gradually  withdrawn,  and  Nicholson  after  a  while  came  to  the 

1  The  following  plates  after  Francis  Nicholson  are  in  Walker's  Copper  Plate  Magazine:— 

Plate    13.  Greenwich  Hospital,  by  W.  &  J.  Walker,  I  Aug.  1792. 

,,       22.  Rivalx  Abbey,  by  W.  &  J.  Walker,  i  Dec.  1792. 

„       37.  Rippon,  by  J.  Walker,  I  Aug.  1793. 

„      49.  Malton,  by  Walker  &  Storer,  I  Feb.  1794. 

73.  York,  by  Walker,  I  Feb.  1795. 

112.  Low  Harrogate,  by  J.  Walker,  I  Sep.  1796. 

148.  Dropping  Well,  by  J.  Walker,  I  March,  1798. 

151.  Edinburgh,  by  J.  Walker,  I  May,  1798. 

154.  Stoke  Gifford,  by  J.  Walker,  I  June,  1798. 

176.  King's  Weston,  by  J.  Walker,  I  May,  1799. 

1 80.  Bristol,  by  J.  Walker,  I  July,  1799. 

1 88.  Kirkstall  Abbey,  by  J.  Walker,  I  Nov.  1799. 

202.  Knaresborough,  by  J.  Walker  &  J.  Grieg,  2  June,  1800. 

235.  Castle  Howard,  by  J.  Walker,  2  Nov.  1801. 


160  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  UK.  Ill 

conclusion  that  he  could  live  better  and  cheaper  in  London  itself. 
So  he  removed  to  Somers  Town,  and  afterwards  to  No.  10  Titchficld 
Street,  where  he  had  purchased  the  house  in  which  we  find  him 
residing  at  the  time  of  the  formation  of  the  Water-Colour  Society. 
He  was  by  that  time  settled  in  a  good  practice,  and,  like  others  of 
his  craft,  he  gave  lessons  to  amateurs. 

He  was  one  of  the  draftsmen  of  his  time  who  most  aimed  at 
extending  and  strengthening  the  scope  and  power  of  water-colour 
painting,  in  which  endeavour  his  early  practice  in  oil  was  no  doubt 
of  service  to  him.  His  friend  Smirke,  whose  ideas  of  water-colour 
were  limited  to  stained  drawing,  thought  he  was  attempting  too  much, 
and  contended  that  it  could  never  bear  a  comparison  with  oil.  But 
Nicholson  thought  otherwise.  While  engaged,  as  before  mentioned, 
in  teaching  drawing  to  Miss  Smith,1  he  suggested  that,  as  his  pupil 
had  made  considerable  progress,  she  might  derive  more  advantage 
from  making  copies  of  the  excellent  pictures  in  her  father's  gallery 
than  from  such  works  as  he  himself  could  produce.  '  Choose  any 
you  like,'  said  Mr.  Smith,  agreeing  to  the  proposal.  Nicholson 
selected  '  Rembrandt's  Mill.'  '  Is  it  possible,'  inquired  the  possessor, 
'  to  produce  by  water-colours  anything  like  the  strength  and  depth 
of  that  picture  ?  But  if  you  like  it  try.'  '  We  did  so,'  said  Nicholson, 
'and  when  the  copies  were  finished  he  was  highly  pleased,  and 
desirous  that  we  should  proceed  on  the  plan  by  going  on  with 
Wilson's  "  Celadon  and  Amelia,"  which  was  equally  satisfactory  to 
him.'  An  attempt  was  afterwards  made  to  steal  Nicholson's  copy 
of  the  Rembrandt  by  a  stranger,  who,  while  the  family  were  in  the 
country,  called  at  Mr.  Smith's  house  in  Park  Street  on  a  pretended 
commission  from  the  artist  to  take  it  away.  A  similar  trick  had 
been  successful  at  a  neighbour's  house  in  Mayfair. 

The  method  of  giving  force  and  an  effect  as  of  impasto  to  his  high 
lights,  which  was  a  characteristic  part  of  Nicholson's  practice,2  and 
whereof  an  account,  communicated  by  him,  was  published  in  the 
Transactions  of  the  Society  of  Arts  in  1799,  was  employed  by  him 

1  Mr.   William  Smith    of  Norwich,  warmly  aided   Lord  Dover  in   the  formation  of  the 
National  Gallery.     (Cunningham's  Lives,  vi.  :  Sir  George  Beaumont.) 

2  One  of  the  greatest  difficulties  at  that  time  in  producing  richness  of  effect  and  clearness 
of  execution  arose  from  the  practice  of  laying  (he  lightest  tint  of  a  drawing  as  the  first  stage, 
and  thus  deepening  the  parts  by  degrees.     By  the  process  of  Nicholson,  the  darker  colours 
were  laid  first,  next   the  forms  destined  to  sustain   the  lights  were   taken  out.'     (Papworth 
MS.) 


en.  in  NICHOLSON  161 

before  he  settled  in  London.  That  he  had  made  some  secret  of  the 
process  is  shown  by  the  following  story,  which  he  tells,  of  another 
attempt  at  fraud.  While  staying  with  Sir  Henry  and  Lady  Tuite  in 
Grosvenor  Square,  he  became  acquainted  with  a  drawing-master  of 
the  name  of  Pierson,  who  often  came  to  him,  and  seemed  always 
eager  to  do"  him  any  service  in  his  power,  fetching  and  carrying  for 
him  anything  from  or  to  any  part  of  the  town,  and  being  frequently 
with  him  while  he  was  at  work.  '  I  did  not  apprehend,'  says  Nicholson, 
'  that  he  would  understand  some  parts  of  my  practice,  such  as  stopping 
out  the  lights.'  He  was  therefore  left  sometimes  alone  in  the  room, 
when  he  took  advantage  of  the  opportunity  of  examining  the  artist's 
materials,  including  his  stopping-mixture,  and  then  made  an  imitation 
of  his  drawing,  and  took  it  to  the  Society  of  Arts,  got  a  specification, 
entered  in  his  name  in  their  books,  and  claimed  a  premium.  Barry, 
the  Academician, '  ever,'  says  Nicholson, '  the  bitter  enemy  of  quacks 
and  jugglers  of  every  description,'  happening  to  be  present  when  this 
claim  came  on  for  adjudication,  informed  the  meeting  that  he  was 
acquainted  with  the  inventor,  whose  works  were  very  different  from 
those  produced  by  the  present  claimant,  whom  he  proceeded  to  de- 
nounce as  an  impostor.  Judgment  was  therefore  suspended  until 
Nicholson  should  have  been  informed  of  what  had  taken  place.  Our 
artist,  on  hearing  of  it,  went  to  the  Adelphi  and  told  Mr.  More,  the 
secretary,  that  if  the  candidate  was,  as  he  suspected,  William  Pierson, 
the  man  had  stolen  the  little  he  knew  from  the  informant.  '  I  am  not 
at  liberty,'  said  the  secretary,  with  official  caution, '  to  give  you  the 
name  ;  but,  to  satisfy  my  own  curiosity,  I  will  look  at  the  entry.'  '  I 
stood  opposite,'  says  Nicholson.  '  The  entry  was  made  in  a  large 
round  hand.  I  had  no  difficulty  in  reading  upside  down  that  "  William 
Pierson  having  by  great  labour  and  expense  invented,  &c."  Mr. 
More  closed  the  book,  saying,  "  Well,  sir,  if  you  are  disposed  to  make 
your  claim,  send  in  a  specimen  of  your  performance.  You  may  depend 
on  having  full  justice  done  you."  There  was  no  competition,  Pierson 
having  cut  and  run  on  the  day  of  Barry's  exposure.' 

This  was  not,  however,  the  only  disciple  of  whom  Nicholson  had 
reason  to  complain.  We  have  seen  how,  when  in  Yorkshire,  he  played 
off  against  one  another  his  town  and  country  customers  ;  and  how, 
when  he  was  drawing  for  the  Harrogate  folk,  and  his  works  got  scarce 
in  London,  the  town  dealers,  to  sell  their  copies,  fabricated  a  report 
that  he  had  come  into  an  estate,  and  was  giving  up  the  brush.  So, 

M 


162  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  BK.  nr 

too,  now  that  he  had  deserted  the  country  market,  and  found  his  chief 
patrons  in  town,  a  more  injurious  rumour  was  spread  in  Yorkshire 
with  a  similar  object.  The  story  was  that  he  had  taken  to  drinking' 
and  that  his  works  were  very  inferior  to  what  he  had  done  formerly. 
Nicholson  heard  this  report,  and  could  not  imagine  how  it  had  arisen  ; 
until  one  of  his  best  friends,  Colonel  Machell,  of  Beverley,  discovered 
that,  since  he  had  left  Yorkshire,  the  frames  wherein  he  used  to  show 
his  drawings  at  the  Harrogate  library,  which  were  marked  with  his 
name,  had  been  utilized  by  a  rogue,  who  placed  his  own  drawings 
there,  pretending  that  they  came  from  Nicholson,  and  no  doubt  ex- 
plaining their  inferiority  by  the  above  ingenious  fiction.  This  impostor 
was  his  old  pupil,  William  Tayleure.  The  ungrateful  wretch  was  now 
settled  as  a  drawing-master  at  Beverley,  where  Colonel  Machell  had 
been  very  kind  and  of  great  service  to  him.  When  Nicholson  was  on 
a  visit  to  the  Colonel,  he  called  upon  his  former  pupil,  and  taking  him 
for  a  walk  into  the  fields,  charged  him  with  his  dishonesty.  The 
culprit  turned  pale  as  death,  and  when  he  had  recovered  the  power  of 
speech,  would  have  stammered  out  a  denial.  '  Don't  attempt  that,' 
said  Nicholson.  '  My  information  is  derived  from  Colonel  Machell, 
who  has  been  your  good  friend  as  well  as  mine,  and  is  incapable  of 
saying  anything  he  cannot  prove.  However,  to  show  you  how  little  I 
can  be  affected  by  such  reports,  having  nothing  to  do  with  the  country, 
I  am  at  my  return  to  send  some  drawings  to  Colonel  Machell,  and  will 
desire  that  he  will  permit  you  to  inspect  them.  I  shall  be  glad  if  you 
can  derive  any  advantage  from  them.'  He  was  so  bitterly  grieved 
that  Nicholson  had  not  the  heart  to  reproach  him  further.  Finally, 
the  poor  fellow  himself  took  to  drinking,  lost  the  best  part  of  his 
employment,  and  died  a  few  years  afterwards. 

It  was  while  Nicholson  resided  in  Titchfield  Street,  but  before  the 
birth  of  the  Water-Colour  Society,  that  he  was  again  brought  into  con- 
tact with  the  Society  of  Arts,  and  became  the  means  of  checking  a 
system  which  showed  that  the  drawing-masters  by  this  time  constituted 
a  somewhat  powerful  clique.  The  members  of  the  Committee  of 
Polite  Arts  at  the  Adelphi,  having  hopelessly  differed  in  opinion  as  to 
the  merits  of  the  works  sent  in  by  candidates  for  the  premiums  offered 
by  the  Society,  agreed  to  refer  the  decision  to  an  artist  who  had  no 
connexion  with  any  of  them ;  and  Nicholson  was  selected  for  that 
purpose.  He  had  already  had  some  reason  to  suspect  the  purity  of 
this  Committee's  awards.  Before  this,  when  he  was  residing  in  Somcrs 
Town,  he  had  made  several  drawings  for  Barber,  afterwards  Barber- 


CH.  ill  NICHOLSON  163 

Beaumont,   the  miniature   painter,  with   whom    he  was   acquainted. 
Barber  '  advised  me,'  he  says, '  to  send  a  drawing  by  my  eldest  daughter 
Sophia  to  the  Society  of  Arts  for  a  premium  ;  to  which  I  objected 
that  she  had  not  sufficient  practice  to  have  any  chance  of  gaining  one. 
He  replied,  "  I  will  assure  her  of  that,  being  one  of  the  Committee  of 
Polite  Arts."    I  am  persuaded,'  adds  Nicholson,  '  that  this  juggling 
practice  has  been  carried  on  from  the  time  when  the  Society  first 
offered  premiums,  to  the  present'     At  the  time  now  referred  to,  the 
whole  of  the  Committee  were  drawing-masters,  each  of  whom  had  a 
natural  partiality  for  the  works  of  his  own  pupils.     Unaware  of  this 
Nicholson  went  to  an  evening  meeting,  and  there  observed  what  is 
sufficiently  stated   in   the   following   letter,  which   he  wrote   to  the 
Secretary,  Mr.   More,  the   next  morning  :    '  Sir, — Having   been    re- 
quested to  attend  the  Committee  of  the  Fine  Arts,  I  did  so  yesterday. 
The  consideration  of  Mr.  Marchant's  report  occupying  the  whole  of 
the  evening,  the  subject  on  account  of  which  I  attended  was  not  gone 
into ;  but  I  had  an  opportunity,  by  examining  the  drawings  of  the 
candidates  for  premiums  in  the  department  of  drawing,  to  observe  that 
the  Society  is  subject  to  great  imposition  ;  and  of  the  worst  tendency, 
as  it  gives  to  young  persons  of  real  merit  a  very  unfavourable  and  un- 
fair trial,  in  opposition  to  those  who  are  not  ashamed  to  send  in  works 
in  which  was  little  of  their   own.     Having  had  the  honour  to  be 
favourably  noticed  by  the  Society  on  a  former  occasion,  and  at  the 
time  had  the  pleasure  of  preventing  the  gross  imposition  of  a  fraudulent 
claim  upon  it,  feeling  it  as  much  my  duty  as  it  is  my  wish  to  expose 
such  attempts  whenever  it  may  be  in  my  power,  I  trust  this  communi- 
cation will  not  be  deemed  impertinent.     It  will  rest  with  the  Society 
to  devise  some  method  of  ascertaining  whether  the  specimens  given 
in  were  really  the  works  of  the  candidates,  several  of  which  I  am  con- 
vinced in  many  of  their  parts  they  are  not.'     Nicholson  received  the 
thanks  of  the  Society,  but  was  desired  to  substantiate  his  statement. 
As  the  result  might  have  been  unpleasant  in  the  absence  of  further 
evidence  than  his  own  opinion,  he  called  upon  his  brother  draftsman, 
John  Varley,  as  having  a   more   extensive   acquaintance   than  any 
other  person  he  could  apply  to,  and  related  the  circumstances  to  him. 
Varley,  besides  being  an  excellent  artist,  was  a  keen  observer  of  men. 
Taking  a  mental   survey  of  the  profession,  he  bethought  him  of  a 
popular  teacher  called  Baynes.1     '  Baynes,'  he  said,  '  has  a  great  many 

1  'James    Baynes,    water-colour    painter,    born    at    Kirkby    Lonsdale,     April    1766, 

M  2 


164  THE   FOUNDING   OF  THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

pupils.  He's  a  poor  nervous  creature  ;  and  I'll  charge  him  so  bluntly 
that  he  will  hardly  attempt  to  evade  my  question.'  And  off  he  went 
in  search  of  the  supposed  culprit.  '  Why,  Baynes,'  said  he,  when  he 
found  him,  'you  have  got  me  into  a  sad  hobble  with  the  Society  of 
Arts.  By  some  means  they've  discovered  that  some  of  the  drawings 
sent  in  by  candidates  were  worked  upon  by  you.'  '  How  could  I 
avoid  it  ? '  answered  Baynes  ;  '  they  were  those  of  my  pupils.  Besides, 
it  is  well  known  to  be  the  practice  of  the  masters.'  Varley  accom- 
panied Nicholson  to  the  Adelphi  on  the  appointed  morning.  There 
they  found  several  of  the  members,  with  '  the  Professor  Barry '  among 
them,  and  the  whole  of  the  Committee  of  the  Fine  Arts.  '  Good 
morning,  Mr.  Warren,'  says  Nicholson  to  the  chairman.  '  Humph  ! ' 
was  the  answer,  as  the  person  addressed  turned  on  his  heel.  He 
accosted  another  with  the  same  result.  '  What  can  be  the  matter  ?  ' 
thought  he,  '  and  why  am  I  sent  to  Coventry  ?  '  The  only  question 
asked  was  by  Barry,  who  said, '  How  do  you  know  that  these  are  not 
the  entire  work  of_  the  candidates  ? '  '  By  the  difference  of  the 
handling,'  answered  Nicholson.  '  The  hand  that  did  this  could  not 
possibly  do  that.  The  first  is  evidently  the  work  of  a  beginner.  The 
other  shows  a  hand  of  great  practice.  It  is  useless,'  added  he,  '  to 
consider  this  as  a  matter  of  opinion.  My  friend  Mr.  Varley  can  prove 
the  truth  of  what  I  stated  to  the  Society,  and  accompanies  me  here 
for  that  purpose.'  '  Having  done  that,'  he  adds,  '  we  returned  home, 
having  no  further  business  there.'  '  I  soon  learned,'  he  continues,  '  that 
the  whole  of  the  Committee  were  to  a  man  drawing-masters,  and  were 
blown  up  sky  high  by  my  letter  to  Mr.  More.'  Soon  afterwards  a 
resolution  was  entered  on  the  Society's  books  requiring  every  candi- 
date to  give  proof  that  the  drawing  sent  in  was  entirely  the  production 
of  the  claimant,  by  his  being  placed  alone  in  a  room  and  there  making 
a  drawing  or  such  parts  of  one  as  would  satisfy  the  Society  that  the 
claim  was  fair.1  '  This  mode  of  trial,'  observes  Nicholson,  '  is  good,  but 
how  is  it  to  be  carried  into  practice  ?  It  is  clear  that  a  set  of  drawing- 
masters  are,  of  all  others,  the  most  unfit  to  decide,  being  themselves 
interested.  If  a  member  of  the  Society  were  competent  to  do  the 
business  it  might  work  well,  but  no  artist  would  undertake  so  trouble- 
some and  thankless  an  office.' 

had  several  pupils  who  gained  a  name  in  art.  He  died  1837.'  (Redgrave's 
Dictionary.') 

1  There  are  points  in  the  foregoing  recital  that  can  scarcely  fail  to  recall  to  the  reader's 
mind  the  evidence  in  a  recent  cause  clKbre  respecting  the  originality  of  certain  works  of 
plastic  art. 


i65 


CHAPTER    IV 

THE   VARLEYS  ;   NATTES  ;   AND   GILPIN 

John  Varley — A  leader  in  the  school — Cornelius  Varley — Of  scientific  tastes — Their  birth 
and  parentage — John's  character  and  early  life — At  Barrow's  school— Sketches  with 
Neale— Private  theatricals — Tossed  by  a  bull —Topographic  tours  and  drawings — With 
Dr.  Monro — First  studio  and  patrons — Early  exhibits — Visits  to  Wales— Havell  and 
C.  Varley's  palette — J.  Varley's  first  marriage — Addresses— -J.  C.  Natles — Topographic 
draftsmen — Engraved  works — W.  S.  Gilpin — Drawing-master — Birth  and  family— 
Sawrey  Gilpin,  R.A. — Rev.  W.  Gilpin. 

THE  JOHN  VARLEY  who  came  to  Nicholson's  aid  in  effecting  the 
above-mentioned  exposure,  was  also  one  of  his  coadjutors  in  the 
scheme  now  afoot  for  a  water-colour  exhibition.  He  was  about  half 
the  age  of  our  Yorkshire  painter,  but  was  already  established  in 
London  as  a  water-colour  draftsman  of  good  repute.  He  lived  and 
painted  during  the  forty  years  next  to  come,  and  was  destined  to  be 
regarded  as  a  leading  member  of  the  school,  and  to  furnish  moreover, 
in  the  soundness  of  his  teaching,  the  very  backbone  of  its  landscape 
art.  At  present  we  are  concerned  with  his  earlier  life  only,  to  the 
time  when,  in  1804,  he  and  his  younger  brother,  CORNELIUS  VARLEY, 
came  forward  as  two  more  of  the  six  recruits  who  joined  the  new 
movement. 

The  scientific  tastes  of  the  latter,  as  well  as  the  philosophic  way 
in  which  the  former  dealt  with  the  methods  of  his  art,  prepare  us  to 
learn  that  these  artists  came  of  intellectual  parentage.  Their  father, 
Richard  Varley,  '  the  first  though  the  younger  of  the  Varleys  who 
came  from  Epworth  in  Lincolnshire,' '  was  at  one  time  settled  in 
Yorkshire,  where  he  married  and  had  two  sons  ;  but  his  wife  dying, 
and  his  circumstances  not  being  prosperous,  he  travelled  to  London, 
leaving  these  two  children  in  the  care  of  his  wife's  family.  Redgrave 
in  the  Dictionary  calls  him  '  a  man  of  very  scientific  attainments,'  and 
states  that  he  'became  tutor  to  Lord  Stanhope's  son.'  But  this 
account  seems  rather  to  belong  to  his  elder  brother,  Samuel  Varley, 

1  Letter  from  Cornelius  Varley,  10  Dec.  1842.     J.  J.  J.  MSS.     Epworth  appears  by  the 
maps  to  be  really  in  Notts,  about  three  miles  from  the  border  of  Lincoln. 


166  THE   FOUNDING   OF  THE   SOCIETY  BK.  ill 

who,  as  he  tells  us,  was  a  '  manufacturer  of  philosophical  instruments 

and  apparatus,'  and  who,  though  '  a  self-taught  man,  became  the  leader 

and  lecturer  of  a  society  for  the  investigation  of  natural  science,  of 

which  Josiah  Wedgwood  and  other  distinguished  men  were  members.'1 

John  Varley  was  one  of  a  family  of  five,  three  boys  and  two  girls, 

all  born  in  a  large  house,  where  their  father  resided,  at   Hackney, 

abutting  on  the  churchyard.    John's  birthday  was  the  i/th  of  August, 

1778,  and  Cornelius's  the  2ist  of  November,  1781.     So  the  one  was 

twenty-six,  and  the  other  twenty-three,  in  the  eventful  year  1804. 

John,  from  his  infancy,  was  fonder  of  drawing  than  of  any  other 
occupation.  He  was  distinguished  among  his  schoolfellows,  not  only 
by  possessing  this  talent,  but  by  a  degree  of  muscular  strength  which 
exceeded  that  of  nearly  all  other  lads  of  his  age.  '  The  latter  qualifi- 
cation gained  him  both  friends  and  enemies,  for  he  could  never  see  a 
boy  tormented  or  oppressed  by  another  without  interfering,  and  with 
all  the  ardent  generosity  of  an  amiable  disposition  and  great  courage 
would  fight  any  boy  of  his  acquaintance  in  the  cause  of  justice,  no 
matter  how  much  older  or  stronger  than  himself.  The  consequence 
was  that  iu  a  short  time  scarce  any  in  the  neighbourhood  would 
fight  him  alone ;  and  once,  when,  upon  some  trifling  occasion  which 
produced  a  quarrel,  three  attacked  him  at  once,  he  maintained  the  un- 
equal combat  for  several  minutes,  and  declined  any  interference,  till 
the  lookers-on  insisted  on  rescuing  him.  He  then  fought  his  three 
antagonists  singly  and  punished  them  all.'  * 

Young  Varley's  father,  like  Nicholson's,  would  not  hear  of  his 
following  his  natural  inclination.  Limning,  he  said,  was  a  bad  trade, 
and  none  of  his  children  should  be  artists.  But '  1'homme  propose 
et  Dieu  dispose."  All  his  sons  in  after  years  took  to  the  brush  ;  for 
the  third,  William  Fleetwood  Varley,  born  in  1785,  also  followed 
the  arts,  with  less  of  the  ability,  but  all  the  enthusiasm,  of  his  elder 
brothers.  Their  sister  Elizabeth,  too,  married  the  painter  Mulready ; 
and  the  family  name  and  talent  have  been  and  continue  to  be  repre- 
sented in  younger  generations.  Under  his  father's  mandate,  John 
was  accordingly  placed,  at  the  age  of  thirteen,  with  a  silversmith,  on 
trial  for  an  apprenticeship.  But  before  the  son  could  be  bound 
apprentice,  the  father  died,  on  the  I7th  of  November,  1791. 

After  this  event,  the  family  seem  to  have  gone  down  in  the  world, 

1  Illustrated  London  News,  25  Oct.  1873.     Obituary  notice  of  Cornelius  Varley. 

2  Manuscript  lent  by  the  late  Edgar  J.  Varley,  John  Varley's  grandson. 


CH.  IV  THE   VARLEYS  ;   NATTES  ;  AND   GILPIN  167 

for  instead  of  their  remaining  in  the  large  house  at  Hackney,  we 
find  John  Varley  residing,  a  few  years  later,  with  his  widowed  mother 
and  his  brothers  and  sisters,  in  an  obscure  court,  opposite  St.  Luke's 
Hospital,  in  Old  Street  There  is  a  story  that,  when  still  a  boy,  he 
was  engaged  by  a  stockbroker  named  Trower  to  clean  and  sweep  out 
his  office.  This  Mr.  Trower  was  in  the  habit  of  sketching  on  scraps 
of  paper,  and  throwing  them  on  the  ground.  Young  Varley  took  to 
copying  some  of  these.  By  some  chance  a  copy  came  to  the  sight  of 
his  employer,  who  told  the  boy  it  was  so  well  done,  that  he  had 
better  take  to  drawing.  And  ever  after  Mr.  Trower  and  his  family 
assisted  Varley. 

For  a  short  time  after  his  father's  death,  John  Varley  was  placed 
with  a  law  stationer.  It  seemed,  however,  quite  impossible  that  he 
could  accustom  himself  to  the  regular  drudgery  of  any  such  occupa- 
tion, and,  one  fine  morning,  having  expended  his  slender  stock  of 
money  in  paper  and  pencils,  with  the  exception  of  three  halfpence, 
he  set  off  on  his  first  sketching  excursion.  His  mother  saw  nothing 
of  him  for  some  days,  when  he  returned,  with  sketches  of  Hampstead 
and  Highgate,  absolutely  driven  home  by  hunger.1  '  Mrs.  Varley, 
who  had  more  taste  for  the  arts  than  her  husband,  regretted  that  her 
son's  inclination  had  been  so  long  opposed,  and  now  encouraged  him 
to  draw  and  study,  and  gave  him  all  the  assistance  her  humble  means 
permitted.' 2  Thus  left  at  liberty,  the  youth  resolved  to  support  him- 
self by  his  pencil  if  he  could.  With  determined  industry  he  set  to 
work  at  drawing  whatever  came  in  his  way,  copying  figures,  making 
sketches  of  animals,  and  exhibiting  a  self-acquired  ability  which 
delighted  his  friends  and  acquaintances,  some  of  whom  encouraged 
him  to  design  subjects  also,  by  making  an  occasional  purchase.  As 
he  was  always  drawing,  his  mother  used  to  say,  '  When  Johnny 
marries,  it  will  be  to  a  paper  wife.' 

Eager  for  practice  and  instruction,  he  got  some  employment,  for 
a  while,  with  a  portrait  painter  in  Holborn  ;  and,  at  the  age  of  fifteen 
or  sixteen,  he  succeeded  in  placing  himself  with  a  teacher  of  the 
name  of  Joseph  Charles  Barrow,  who  had  an  evening  drawing-school 
twice  a  week  at  his  house  at  No.  12  Furnival's  Inn  Court,  Holborn. 

1  Cornelius  Varley.  MS.  The  late  Mr.  E.  J.  Varley  had  a  water- colour  drawing  by  his 
grandfather,  partly  washed,  and  partly  in  local  colour,  of  a  waggon  and  some  houses  at  Cam« 
bridge  ;  and  it  has  been  conjectured  that  he  may  have  got  so  far  and  made  this  study  during 
a  truant  trip. 

*  Cornelius  Varley.     MS. 


168  THE   FOUNDING   OK   THE   SOCIETY  UK.  II 

Varley  was  to  make  himself  generally  useful,  not  only  during  the 
hours  of  study,  as  a  lower  kind  of  assistant,  but  also  as  an  errand 
boy  and  otherwise  at  odd  times.  In  return,  he  had  the  advantage 
of  drawing  with  the  other  pupils,  and  he  was  moreover  furnished 
with  prints  from  which  he  studied,  and  encouraged  to  draw  from 
nature.  Francia,  one  of  Girtin's  fellow-sketchers,  was,  as  above  men- 
tioned, an  assistant  here  also ;  but  in  a  higher  capacity  than  that 
of  John  Varley. 

'  Poor  Varley,'  writes  one  who  knew  him  well  at  this  time, '  began 
the  world  with  tattered  clothes,  and  shoes  tied  with  string  to  keep 
them  on.  Yet  nothing,'  he  adds,  '  could  damp  the  ardour  of  this 
determined,  great  man.  He  was  ever  with  his  pencil,  either  drawing 
from  nature,  or  copying  the  works  of  distinguished  masters.  He  rose 
early,  drew  till  it  was  time  to  attend  his  situation,  and  set  off  with  a 
large  ragged  portfolio,  and  a  string  over  his  shoulder  attached  to  it 
head  first,  at  a  full  trot  until  he  arrived  at  his  master's.'  '  So  great  an 
enthusiast  I  never,  in  the  whole  of  my  long  practice,  beheld.' 

The  writer  of  the  above  was  John  Preston  Neale,  a  fellow-artist, 
who,  though  about  seven  years  his  senior,  did  not  take  to  the 
profession  himself  until  a  later  period.  He  is  best  known  as  an  archi- 
tectural topographic  draftsman  for  engraved  works.1  Neale  '  began 
life  as  a  clerk  in  the  Post-Omce,' 2  but  seems  to  have  spent  his  leisure 
in  the  pursuit  of  tastes  inherited  from  his  father,  who  painted  insects, 
'It  was  early  in  March  1796,'  he  writes, 'that  I  went  on  Sunday 
morning  to  Hornsey  wood  to  sketch  and  to  collect  insects.'  There 
he  met  with  John  Varley,  sketching  likewise.  They  entered  into 
conversation,  and  so  commenced  a  friendly  intercourse,  which  lasted 
during  their  joint  lives. 

Thus  thrown  together,  they  became  frequent  companions.  Neale, 
however,  could  not  inoculate  Varley  with  his  taste  for  entomology, 
the  energies  of  the  latter  being  otherwise  directed.  But  he  persuaded 
him  to  join  in  a  project  for  a  work  on  natural  history,  of  ambitious 
dimensions.  It  was  to  be  in  royal  quarto,  and  they  called  it  the 
Picturesque  Cabinet  of  Nature.  It  was  to  consist  of  landscapes, 
beasts,  birds,  insects,  flowers,  &c.,  &c.  Varley  was  to  make  all  the 

1  He  made  drawings  for  the  following  works  :  History  and  Antiquities  of  the  Abbey 
Church  at  Westminster  (1818-23),   Views  of  the  most  interesting  Collegiate  and  Parochial 
Clntrches  (1824-25),   Views  of  the  Scats  of  the  Nobility  and  Gentry  of  the  United  Kingdom 
(1st  series,  1822-24,  2n(l  series,  1829).     He  died  in  1847,  aged  76.     (Redgrave's  Dictionary.} 

2  Redgrave. 


CH.  IV  THE   VARLEYS  ;    NATTES  ;   AND    GILPIN  169 

landscape  drawings  ;  and  Neale  to  etch  them,  as  well  as  to  make  all 
the  others  and  colour  the  plates.  The  first  number  was  produced, 
and  consisted  of  three  prints,  horses,  cows,  and  an  ass.  It  was 
published  on  the  1st  of  September,  1796.  But  we  hear  nothing  of 
No.  2,  or  of  any  landscape  by  Varley. 

Neale  gives  the  following  graphic  description  of  one  of  his 
sketching  excursions  with  his  young  companion  in  this  same  year. 
It  was  on  a  fine  Sunday  morning  in  the  spring  of  1796,  that  John 
Varley  and  he  sallied  forth  in  search  of  the  picturesque.  '  About  7 
A.M.  we  reached  the  private  Mad-house  at  Hoxton,  and  as  the  foliage 
was  beautiful  round  its  banks,  we  sat  down  to  copy  their  beauties. 
We  had  been  seated  but  a  short  period,  when  we  began  to  frighten 
each  other  by  tales  regarding  the  unhappy  persons  confined  within 
this  sad  abode.  Suddenly  a  terrible  rush  was  heard  among  the  trees 
and  bushes.  Having  previously  raised  our  fears  to  highest  pitch,  we 
stayed  not  to  inquire  the  cause ;  but  scrambling  up,  made  a  precipitate 
retreat  to  the  middle  of  the  field,  where  we  stopped  to  watch  the 
supposed  maniacs  that  were  making  their  escape.  We  discovered  our 
mistake  ;  the  noise  being  occasioned  by  some  men,  who  were  robbing 
the  garden,  falling  from  a  tree,  and  who  were  equally  surprised  with 
ourselves,  supposing  us  placed  there  to  watch  their  movements. 
Having  been  thus  satisfied,  we  resumed  our  seats,  finished  our 
sketches,  and  proceeded  to  Tottenham,  where  we  commenced  sketching 
the  church,  I  taking  my  station  by  the  side  of  a  table  monument,  and 
Varley  close  to  me.  To  give  my  friends  some  idea  of  our  feelings  at 
this  time  as  young  artists,  it  will  be  only  necessary  to  state,  that  we 
saw  the  people  going  to  public  worship :  in  the  morning,  in  the 
afternoon,  and  in  the  evening,  they  found  us  there.  So  exact  were 
our  notions,  that  in  colouring  my  sketch  I  copied  the  colours  and 
even  counted  the  bricks,  minutely  attending  to  every  other  particular. 
During  the  day  we  subsisted  upon  a  crust  of  bread,  and  water,  the 
latter  of  which  we  obtained  from  a  neighbouring  pump.  On  another 
occasion  we  drew  and  coloured,  with  much  labour  and  fatigue,  Stoke 
Newington  Church.  The  colouring  of  my  sketch,'  he  adds  with 
pardonable  pride, '  Varley  has  often  referred  to  in  later  life  as  producing 
something  very  good.' 

Neale  often  visited  John  Varley  at  his  mother's  humble  abode  ; 
and  once  they  got  up  a  private  play,  hiring  a  room  for  the  purpose 
at  the  corner  of  her  court,  in  Old  Street.  Canvas,  and  a  variety 


1 7o  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  ni 

of  things  necessary  for  the  performance,  were  bought,  and  Varley  and 
he  set  about  painting  the  scenes.  They  had  vast  trouble,  he  tells  us, 
to  produce  the  proper  effect  where  an  oval  looking-glass  was  repre- 
sented between  two  windows.  The  pieces  were  '  George  Barnwell ' 
and  '  Miss  in  her  Teens  ; '  and  the  following  was  the  cast  :— 


For  George  Barmvell 

George  B.    .         .     J.  P.  Neale 
Freeman      .         .     T.  Bridges 


F"or  Miss  in  her  Teens 

Billy  Fribble  .  J.  P.  Neale 
Major  .  .  W.  Ashton 
Miss  in  her  Teens  Miss  Ashton 


Uncle .         .         .     W.  Ashton 
Blunt.       V        .     J.  Varley 
Milwood     .         .Miss  Ashton 
Lucy  .         .         .     Miss  Varley 

The  performances,  as  usual,  went  off  with  great  applause  ;  but  the 
subscriptions  fell  short  of  expectation  and  also  of  expenses.  Neale 
had  to  endure  much  dunning  from  the  landlady  for  her  two  guineas 
charged  for  the  room  ;  and  the  theatre  was  broken  up. 

About  this  time  John  Varley  was  attacked,  in  '  Old  Broad  Street 
Road,'  and  tossed,  by  a  bull,  and  much  hurt.  When,  in  after  life,  he 
turned,  as  is  well  known,  so  much  of  his  attention  to  astrology,  he 
declared  that  this  was  one  of  the  casualties  to  which  he  had  been 
specially  liable  from  his  nativity.  It  is  to  be  presumed  that  the 
constellation  Taurus  had  something  to  do  with  it. 

His  teacher,  Barrow,  must  have  thought  well  of  Varley's  talent, 
for  he  took  him  to  Peterborough  on  a  sketching  expedition.  The 
result  was  that  the  pupil  made  so  excellent  a  view  of  the  cathedral, 
that  the  master  was  lost  sight  of,  and  young  Varley,  on  the  strength 
of  it,  regarded  as  the  artist  who  was  sure  to  succeed.  The  '  View  of 
Peterborough  Cathedral '  which  thus  brought  him  into  notice  was 
exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy  in  1798.  It  was  a  finished  pencil- 
drawing  made  by  him  after  his  return,  from  sketches  on  the  spot. 

He  now  began  to  make  acquaintances  among  successful  members 
of  his  profession,  and  patrons  of  art,  and  rapidly  advanced  in  his 
practice  as  a  landscape  draftsman.  In  1798  or  1799  he  travelled  in 
North  Wales  with  George  Arnald  (afterwards  A.R.A.),  a  landscape 
painter  of  merit ;  and,  either  at  the  same  time  or  separately,  with 
the  drawing-master  Baynes,  whose  cleverness  in  embellishing  his 
pupil's  works  we  have  already  been  made  acquainted  with.  His  first 
tour  in  Wales,  a  pedestrian  one,  was  the  foundation  of  his  fame.  He 


CH.  IV  THE   VARLEYS  ;   NATTES  ;   AND    GILPIN  *  171 

then  first  beheld  the  class  of  subjects  that  had  the  greatest  attraction 
for  him,  and  to  the  end  of  his  life  chiefly  inspired  the  landscape  com- 
positions for  which  he  became  celebrated. 

It  was  at  this  time  that  his  talent  attracted  the  admiration  of  Dr. 
Monro,  who,  in  1799  or  1800,  took  him  to  his  country  house  at  Fetcham 
to  make  coloured  sketches  in  the  neighbourhood,  particularly  about 
Box  Hill.  He  was  also  one  of  the  class  of  students  that  met  at  the 
Doctor's  in  Adelphi  Terrace,1  and,  being  three  years  or  so  younger 
than  Girtin  and  Turner,  must  have  come  fully  within  the  influence  of 
their  great  example.  For  the  advantage  of  being  near  this  valued 
seat  of  art  learning,  John  Varley,  at  Dr.  Monro's  suggestion,  came,  in 
the  year  1800,  that  of  Girtin's  marriage,  into  that  painter's  old  familiar 
neighbourhood,  and  took  up  his  abode  with  his  brother  Cornelius,  in 
Charles  Street,  Covent  Garden.2  Cornelius  had  been  living  with  his 
uncle  Samuel,  the  instrument  maker.  But  when  he  joined  his  brother, 
he  commenced  the  study  of  art  under  his  guidance.  Here  the  good 
Doctor  visited  John  Varley,  was  delighted  with  his  progress,  in  which 
he  took  great  interest,  standing  by  while  he  drew,  and  dictating  the 
tints  he  should  use.  Girtin's  patrons,  the  Earl  of  Essex  and  '  Prince ' 
Lascelles,  also  patronized  Varley,  and  visited  him  in  his  new  studio. 

The  Messrs.  Redgrave  say3  that  he  made  another  visit  to  Wales 
in  this  year,  1800.  He  had  followed  up  the  success  of  his  first  drawing 
at  Somerset  House  by  exhibiting  four  works  there  in  1799,  and  from 
that  time  till  1804,  when  he  became  a  member  of  the  'old'  (then 
new)  Society,  he  had  from  three  to  six  on  the  walls  yearly.  They 
were  mostly  views  in  Wales.  That  of  Cader  Idris,  at  the  South 
Kensington  Museum,  in  the  early  tinted  manner,  is  very  likely  one 
which  hung  in  the  '  Anti-Room  '  in  1801.  A  few  topographic  plates 
of  these  early  dates  bear  the  name  of  J.  Varley,  as :  '  Valle  Crucis 
Abbey'  (1800),  'Stilton'  (i  Dec.,  1800),  'Monmouth'  (1801),  all 
engraved  by  J.  Walker ;  and  '  Chepstow '  ( 1 801 ),  in  Beauties  of  England 
and  Wales,  xi.  175.  He  also  began  to  take  pupils.  In  1801  Mrs. 
Schutz,  to  whose  daughters  he  had  given  lessons,  invited  the  two 
Varleys  to  her  house  at  Gillingham  in  Norfolk.  Cornelius  remained 

1  Redgrave's  Century,  \.  493. 

'  This  is  stated  on  the  written  authority  of  Cornelius  Varley  himself.  But  John  Varley's 
address  in  the  Royal  Academy  Catalogue  of  1800  is  33  Craven  Street,  Hoxton,  and  in  those 
from  1801  to  1804  is  z  Harris  Place,  Pantheon,  Oxford  Street.  That  in  1799  is  12  FurnivaPs 
Inn  Court  ;  that  is  to  say,  at  Barrow's. 

3  Ul'i  supra. 


172  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

there,  and  in  the  same  year  made  sketches  in  Suffolk,  of  churches 
and  gentlemen's  residences.1  John  went  also  to  the  Earl  of  Essex's 
at  Hampton  Court,  Hertfordshire.  About  this  time  he  made  the 
acquaintance  of  Wilson  Lowry,  the  mechanical  engraver,  a  man  of 
varied  scientific  attainments,  whose  daughter  afterwards  became  the 
painter's  second  wife. 

In  1802  he  visited  North  Wales  again,  in  company  with  Cornelius, 
and  with  Thomas  Webster,  the  architect  of  the  lecture-room  at  the 
Royal  Institution.2  There  they  fell  in  with  several  brother  artists, 
Joshua  Cristall  and  young  William  Havell  among  the  number,  both 
to  become  distinguished  members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society.  At 
Dolgelly,  where  they  met  the  latter,  they  also  encountered  a  large 
party,  comprising  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Lovvry,  Arthur  Aikin  and  his  sister 
Lucy  the  historian,  Mr.  Knight,  and  Mr.  Donovan,  who  were  making 
a  geological  tour  through  North  Wales.  In  the  next  year,  1803, 
Cornelius  Varley  also  began  to  exhibit  drawings  at  Somerset  House  ; 
and  he  went  off  to  Wales  again  with  Cristall,  and  made  many 
drawings  there.  They  met  Havell  at  Ross,  and  the  three  pursued 
their  journey  together.  While  sketching  in  the  market-place  Varley 
excited  Havell's  envy  by  using  a  sheet  of  ass's  skin  for  a  palette. 
The  latter,  being  burdened  with  the  weight  of  an  earthen  palette,  was 
charmed  with  the  lightness  of  his  friend's  contrivance.  Varley 
thereupon  pulled  out  another  sheet  and  gave  it  to  him.  This  so 
delighted  Havell  that  he  stuck  his  earthen  palette  up  in  the  market- 
place and  pelted  it  with  stones  until  he  had  broken  it  to  pieces, 
much  to  the  amusement  of  a  crowd  of  spectators.3  John  Varley 
never  made  a  sketching  tour  with  Havell.  He  went  that  year  into 
Yorkshire  and  Northumberland,  and  is  said  to  have  gone  also  about 
this  time  to  Devonshire  and  to  other  parts  of  England.4 

In  the  same  year,  1803,  he  married  his  first  wife,  whose  maiden 
name  was  Gisborne.  One  of  her  sisters  became  the  wife  of  Copley 
Fielding,  and  another  of  Muzio  Clementi,  of  musical  celebrity. 

Such  were  the  antecedents  of  John  and  Cornelius  Varley  prior 
to  their  joining  in  the  movement  of  the  water-colour  painters  for  a 


1  Some  of  the  sketches  of  this  year  were  sold  by  Christie,   15  July,    1875,  among  his 
remaining  works  after  his  death. 

2  Among  the  drawings  sold  after  C.  Varley's  death  was  a  '  Design  made  for  the  Royal 
Institution.'     (Lot  146.) 

3  J.  J.  J.  MS.  ex  relatione  C.  Varley.  4  Art  Union,  January  1843. 


CH.  IV  THE   VARLEYS;    NATTES  ;   AND    GILPIN  173 

gallery  of  their  own.  The  address  of  John  Varley  given  in  the  first 
of  the  Society's  catalogues  is  1 5  Broad  Street,  Golden  Square,  and 
that  of  Cornelius  Varley,  6  Hanover  Street,  Hanover  Square. 

Two  of  the  six  recruits  remain  to  be  accounted  for.  They  were 
/  C.  Nattes  and  W.  S.  Gilpin. 

JOHN  CLAUDE  NATTES  was  a  topographic  draftsman,  who 
worked  in  the  tinted  manner,  had  exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy 
since  1782,  and  was  engaged  in  the  production  of  the  following 
series  of  works,  for  which  he  travelled  and  made  sketches  :  Versailles, 
Paris,  et  St.-Denis,  folio,  forty  coloured  aquatints  chiefly  by  J.  Hill, 
dated  1804  to  1809;  Hibernia  Depicta,  1802;  Scotia  Depicta,  obi. 
4to,  fifty  etchings  by  Jas.  Fittler,  A.R.A.,  dated  1801  to  1804  ;  Select 
Views  of  Bath,  Bristol,  Malvern,  Cheltenham,  and  Weymouth,  \  805  ; 
Bath  and  its  Environs  Illustrated,  folio,  thirty  coloured  aquatints  by 
J.  Hill,  dated  1804,  1805.  In  the  Beauties  of  England  and  Wales 
there  are  '  Durham  Cathedral '  (frontispiece)  and  '  View  in  New- 
castle,' drawn  by  J.  R.  Thompson  and  J.  C.  Smith  after  sketches  by 
J.  C.  Nattes. 

He  is  said  by  Redgrave  to  have  been  born  in  England  about 
1765,  and  to  have  been  pupil  of  an  Irish  landscape-painter  of  no 
great  character  called  Hugh  Primrose  Neale,  who  spent  much  of  his 
time  in  Italy,  enjoyed  the  sobriquet  of  the  '  Irish  Claude,' '  as  well  as 
the  patronage  of  Lord  Palmerston  (until  he  lost  the  latter  by  mis- 
conduct), and  after  turning  Methodist  preacher,  died  about  1784, 
Nattes's  address  was  No.  5  Woodstock  Street,  Bond  Street. 

It  was  more  by  his  connexion  with  art  than  by  his  ability  as  a 
draftsman  that  WILLIAM  SAWRY  GILPIN  came  to  be  welcomed  as 
an  adherent  to  the  cause.  Up  to  this  time  we  find  only  one  ex- 
hibited work  of  his,  namely  a  '  Park  Scene  '  at  the  Royal  Academy  in 
1800.  But  he  was  in  great  practice  as  a  drawing-master,  for  which, 
according  to  Nicholson,  he  was  not  a  little  indebted  to  his  name 
and  family  influence,  through  which  he  had  formed  an  extensive 
connexion. 

He  was  descended  from  Bernard  Gilpin,  the  divine.  His  father 
was  Sawrey  *  Gilpin,  an  animal  painter  of  much  repute  in  his  day, 

1  Whether  the  son's  baptismal  name  was  hence  derived  is  matter  for  conjecture. 

2  In  Watts's    Views  there  is  one  of  '  Broughton  Tower,   Lancashire,  the  seat  of  John 
Gilpin  Sawrey,  Esq.' 


I74  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  UK.  in 

who  came  from  Carlisle,  had  been  patronized  by  the  Duke  of 
Cumberland  in  the  old  days  of  the  Sandbys,  had  been  president  of 
the  Incorporated  Society,  and  in  1797  been  made  a  full  member 
of  the  Royal  Academy,  where  he  had  exhibited  since  1786.  The 
son,  William  Sawrey  Gilpin,  was  born  in  1762. 

More  closely  associated-  with  the  branch  of  art  professed  by  the 
son  is  the  name  of  his  uncle,  the  Rev.  William  Gilpin,  Vicar  of  Boldre 
in  the  New  Forest,  an  amateur  artist  well  known  for  his  many 
writings  on  the  theory  and  characteristics  of  landscape  and  pic- 
turesque beauty,  generally  illustrated  with  slight  aquatinted  sketches 
by  his  own  hand,  some,  however,  being  by  his  brother  the  R.A. 
His  original  sketches  were  sold  by  him  at  Christie's  in  1802  for  the 
endowment  of  his  parish  school,  and  fetched  i,S6o/.  William  Gilpin's 
writings,1  judging  by  their  sale,  were  popular  in  his  day,  and  no 
doubt  contributed  to  the  more  generalized  study  of  the  picturesque, 
which  at  the  end  of  the  last  century  was  rapidly  superseding  the 
taste  for  dry  topography,  and  was  in  a  great  measure  due  to  the 
awakened  interest  of  amateurs  like  Gilpin  in  landscape  art.  In  1804, 
before  the  younger  Gilpin,  in  whose  Christian  name  his  father's  and 
uncle's  were  united,  joined  our  embryo  Society,  William  Gilpin  in 
his  eightieth  year  had  joined  the  great  majority,  and  Sawrey  Gilpin 
had  just  attained  the  age  of  seventy. 

1  The  following  is  believed  to  be  a  nearly  complete  list  of  William  Gilpin's  works  : 
Tour  down  the  Wye,  1782  (another  edition,  1789).  Northern  Tour,  2  vols.,  1788. 
Scottish  Tottr,  2  vols.,  1789  (another  edition,  1792).  Forest  Scenery,  2  vols.,  1791  (other 
editions,  1794  and  1879).  An  Essay  on  Prints,  with  Accounts  of  Engravers,  8vo,  1792. 
Essay  on  Picturesqtie  Beauty,  j  794.  Western  Tour,  1 798.  (Sale  Catalogue  of  Drawings, 
1802.)  The  following  were  published  after  his  death:  Southern  Tour,  1804.  Essay  on 
Sketching,  1804.  Eastern  Tour,  1809.  Practical  Illustration  of  the  Day,  representing 
various  effects  of  Landscape  Scenery,  from  Morning  till  Night,  30  plates,  coloured  like  the 
original  drawings,  roy.  410,  1811. 


'75 


CHAPTER   V 
THE  SOCIETY  FOUNDED — BARRET  AND  CRISTALL 

Meeting  at  Stratford  Coffee-house — The  Society  as  first  founded — Gilpin  first  president  —Six 
more  members —  George  Barret — Birth  and  parentage — Early  works — Exhibits  at  the  Royal 
Academy — Morning  and  evening  effects — Frugal  industry— -Joshua  Cristall — Classic  taste 
— Birth,  parentage,  and  early  life— At  Rotherhithe — Taste  for  poetry  fostered  by  mother 
— At  Blackheath— Pollard  of  Morden  and  his  Virgil— Father's  opposition — At  Mr. 
Ewson's — Refuses  china  trade — At  Turner's  factory,  Brosely — Mary  Wollstonecraft — 
Father  ruined — Tries  china-painting — Hard  life— Finds  a  home  at  Mr.  Clayton's— Print- 
works at  Old  Ford — Short  rations — Lives  with  sister — Tries  engraving — Student  at 
the  Royal  Academy — Walk  to  Rome  proposed — Practises  water-colours — At  Dr.  Monro's 
— Early  works — Paints  on  a  panorama — George  Dyer — Sketching  tours — Adventure  with 
Welsh  miners — Exhibits  at  the  Royal  Academy — Addresses. 

THESE  ten  water-colour  painters,  Wells,  Shelley,  Hills,  and  Pyne 
(the  four  original  conspirators),  with  Pocock,  Nicholson,  the  two 
Varleys,  Nattes,  and  Gilpin,  met  together  at  the  Stratford  Coffee- 
house in  Oxford  Street,  on  the  3Oth  of  November,  1804,  and  there 
and  then  united  themselves  into  an  associated  body,  drew  up  a  set 
of  rules,  and  formally  assumed  the  title  of  THE  SOCIETY  OF 
PAINTERS  !  IN  WATER-COLOURS.  It  was  to  consist  of  '  no  more 
than  twenty-four  members.'  They  must  be  of '  moral  character ' 2  and 
'  professional  reputation,'  and  '  resident  in  the  United  Kingdom.'  For 
the  direction  of  its  affairs  a  president  and  other  officers  were  to  be 
elected  annually  ;  and  there  was  to  be  a  committee,  with  the  secretary 
as  an  ex-officio  member,  the  remaining  seats  being  filled  by  all  the 
members  of  the  Society  in  succession.  Out  of  the  profits  of  the 
exhibition,  should  there  be  any  after  payment  of  expenses,  a  sum  was 
to  be  set  apart  for  expenses  of  the  following  year,  and  the  residue 
divided  among  the  members  in  sums  proportioned  to  the  drawings  sent 

1  It  had  been  a  question  among  the  founders,  says  Pyne  (Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  45), 
'  whether  the  novel  term  painters  in  water-colours  might  not  be  considered  by  the  world  of 
taste  to  savour  of  assumption.' 

2  In  the  Royal  Academy  the  instrument  of  institution   also  required  its  members  to  be 
'men  of  fair   moral  character'   as  well  as  artists  of  distinction.      (Sandby's  Hist.   R.A., 
\.  281-2 ;  and  see  ii.  36.) 


176  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

and  retained  for  exhibition.  It  is  important  to  bear  in  mind  this 
last  provision. 

They  then  proceeded  to  elect  officers  for  the  ensuing  year. 
Gilpin's  position  and  connexions  seemed  to  confer  upon  him  a 
special  qualification  for  that  of  president,  and  he  was  accordingly 
installed  in  the  chair.  Shelley  was  made  treasurer,  and  Hills  secretary, 
The  first  committee-men  were  Nicholson,  Pocock,  Pyne,  and  Wells  ; 
and  Nattes  and  the  two  Varleys  remained  to  represent  the  body  of 
the  Society.  It  was  not,  however,  long,  when  the  Society  had  thus 
assumed  a  definite  shape,  before  the  number  of  ordinary  members 
was  augmented  by  the  addition  of  the  following  six,  most  of  whom 
were  artists  of  great  merit  and  distinction.  They  were  George  Barret, 
Joshua  Cristall,  John  Glover,  William  Havell,  James  Hohvorthy, 
and  Stephen  Francis  Rigaud.  The  above-named  sixteen  members 
constituted  the  Society  at  the  date  of  its  first  exhibition  in  1805. 

Before  assigning  to  them  their  due  rank  therein,  what  is  known 
of  the  respective  antecedents  and  previous  standing  in  the  pro- 
fession of  the  last-mentioned  six  artists  must  first  be  related. 

Something  has  already  been  told  of  the  early  surroundings  of 
GEORGE  BARRET  ;  how  his  father  was  one  of  the  founders  of  the 
Royal  Academy,  as  he  himself  was  one  of  the  first  members  of  the 
Water-Colour  Society  ;  and  how,  being  a  landscape  painter  himself, 
with  a  strong  feeling  for  English  rural  scenery,  he  was  qualified  to 
transmit  to  his  son  a  valuable  inheritance  of  art-training.  It  was  all 
the  wealth  he  could  leave  him.  Imprudent  in  money  matters,  he 
became  insolvent,  and  died  in  1784,  leaving  a  widow '  and  a  large 
family  wholly  unprovided  for.  George  was  born  in  1767  (or  the 
beginning  of  the  year  after)  in  Orchard  Street,  Oxford  Street,  where 
his  father  then  resided.  About  ten  years  before  the  elder  Barret's  death, 
the  family  removed  to  Westbourne  Green,  Paddington,2  then  quite  a 
rural  place,  to  get  purer  air,  as  the  father  suffered  from  asthma. 

George  Barret  was  about  seventeen  when  he  and  his  brothers  and 
sisters  were  left  orphans,  and  had  to  support  themselves  by  their 
own  exertions.  Two  of  them,  besides  himself,  took  to  the  practice  of 

1  A  pension  of  y>l.   a  year  was  awarded  by  the  Royal   Academy  to  Barret's  widow  in 
1802.     (Sandby's  History  of  the  Royal  Academy,  \.  262.) 

2  In  an  appeal  on  behalf  of  the  younger  Barret's   family,  issued   after  his  death,  as  an 
advertisement  in  the  Art  Union  for  June  1842,  there  occurs  a  statement  that  his  early  days 
were  passed  at  the  Manor   House,    Paddington,    '  the  residence  of  Barret's  father  in  his 
prosperity.'     See,  infra,  a  reference  to  this  house  in  connection  with  the  life  of  Cristall. 


CH.  v     THE    SOCIETY    FOUNDED— BARRET   AND    CRISTALL          177 

art.  James  Barret  exhibited  landscapes  in  water  and  body  colours, 
occasionally  at  Somerset  House,  between  1785  and  1800.  And  Miss 
M.  Barret  became  a  miniature  painter,  exhibited  there  in  1797-1799, 
and,  a  quarter  of  a  century  after,  joined  the  Water-Colour  Society. 
But  George  was  by  far  the  most  distinguished  for  artistic  talent. 

Little  seems  to  be  known  of  his  professional  progress  in  these 
early  years.  He  must  have  had,  as  he  had  more  or  less  through  life, 
a  hard  task  to  support  himself  by  his  pencil,  before  the  appearance  of 
his  first  exhibited  work,  which  seems  to  have  been  in  1800,'  when  he 
was  already  about  thirty-two  years  of  age.  In  that  year  he  had  at 
the  Academy  '  A  Rocky  Scene '  and  '  Morning.' 

To  the  class  of  subjects  indicated  in  the  latter  title  he  was  always 
partial.  He  used  to  say  that  he  gained  more  by  studying  in  the  early 
morning  and  the  evening  than  at  any  other  time.  His  habit  was  to 
go  to  the  same  spot  and  watch  the  sunrise,  morning  after  morning, 
making  slight  memoranda.  He  used  to  wait  until  the  effect  appeared 
that  suited  him,  and  go  to  the  same  sketch  over  and  over  again  at  the 
same  hour  on  different  days,  working  only  as  long  as  the  particular 
effect  lasted,  under  which  he  had  commenced  his  study.2  This  mode 
of  practice  he  continued  through  life,  and  the  titles  of  his  works  show 
how  long  and  how  fondly  he  adhered  to  his  favourite  aspect  of  nature. 
Pyne,  when  mentioning,  in  1824,  a  drawing  in  his  possession  of  a 
'Wood  Scene,'  by  Barret,  executed  about  1799,  writes  as  follows: 
'  We  have  watched  the  progress  of  this  artist,  we  may  almost  say  step 
by  step,  from  the  period  when  he  commenced  his  career.  Mr.  Barret 
began  early  to  study  from  nature,  and  to  copy  trees,  banks,  weeds, 
&c.,  with  careful  identity.  His  early  coloured  drawings  were  simple 
in  effect,  and  chaste  in  colouring.'3 

Unlike  his  father,  the  younger  George  Barret  appears  to  have  been 
a  man  of  simple  tastes,  and  frugal  in  his  habits,  while  he  was  also 
industrious  and  devoted  to  his  art.  But  he  made  so  modest  an 
estimate  of  the  value  of  his  own  work,  that  he  was  always  poor. 

In  1801  and  1802  Barret  again  had  one  or  two  works  at  Somerset 

1  Graves's  list  and  Redgrave's  Dictionary.  The  following  pictures,  of  earlier  date,  are, 
however,  attributed  to  him  in  the  Century  of  Painters,  i.  489,  exhibited  in  1795  :  'Gentle- 
man's Seat  in  Yorkshire;'  '  Scene  on  Loch  Lomond;' — in  1796:  'Lord  Grantley's  Seat 
(horses  by  Sawrey  Gilpin) ; '  '  Scene  in  the  Highlands  (with  portraits  by  Reinagle  and 
horses  by  Gilpin).'  The  subjects  would  have  pointed  rather  to  the  authorship  of  Barret, 
R.  A. ,  had  he  not  been  dead  more  than  ten  years. 

*  J.  J.  J.  ex  rdatione  Dorrell.  '  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  47. 

N 


i;8  THE    FOUiNDING   OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  ill 

House ;    but   otherwise   his   name   does   not   appear    in    exhibition 
catalogues  until  the  Water-Colour  Society  opened  its  gallery. 

JOSHUA  CRISTALL  was  another  artist  of  refined  quality  who  joined 
the  Society  at  its  commencement.  Barret  and  he  were  nearly  of  an 
age  ;  and  he,  like  Barret,  was  little  known  to  the  public  by  exhibited 
works.  One  drawing  only  had  he  had  at  Somerset  House,  a  portrait, 
hung  in  the  Library  in  1803,  and  not  likely  to  have  attracted  much 
attention.1  But,  like  Barret  too,  he  possessed  that  high  sense  of  ideal 
beauty  to  which  has  been  given,  perhaps  too  exclusively,  the  name  of 
classic  taste.2  And,  like  him,  he  combined  a  gentle  simplicity  of 
character  with  an  earnest  love  of  his  art. 

Cristall  was  essentially  a  figure  painter,  though  he  excelled  too  in 
the  combination  of  figures  with  landscape.  In  this,  and  in  his  choice 
of  poetic  subjects,  as  well  as  in  his  style  of  treating  those  of  a  more 
familiar  kind,  he  was  somewhat  of  an  anomaly  in  the  water-colour 
school.  '  There  was  perceptible  in  his  early  designs,'  says  Pyne, '  a 
largeness  of  parts,  and  a  greatness  of  execution,  that  called  for  more 
powerful  space  for  the  display  of  such  rare  excellences  than  the 
limited  scope  of  water-colours  could  afford  ;  unless,  indeed,  he  had  been 
sufficiently  adventurous  to  have  revived  the  art  of  body-colours,  and 
attempted  designs  on  the  magnificent  scale  of  the  celebrated  cartoons. 
We  never  recur,'  observes  the  same  writer, '  to  the  works  of  this  classic 
genius,  but  we  regret  that  he  did  not  originally  direct  his  fine  talents 
for  composition  to  the  profession  of  sculpture,  or  to  painting  in  oil.'  * 
But  the  circumstances  of  poor  Cristall's  life  were  such  as  to  leave  him 
a  very  narrow  choice  as  to  his  branch  of  the  profession.  He  had  to 
struggle,  not  only  with  want  of  means  and  connexion,  but  against  the 
opposition  of  parents  and  friends  ;  and  the  years  which  should  have 
been  devoted  to  his  training  in  art  were  expended  in  the  endeavour 
to  obtain  the  education  he  needed.  Being  thus  deprived  of  the  advan- 
tage of  early  instruction  and  practice,  he  was  constrained  to  acquire  the 
mechanical  parts  of  his  art,  at  a  time  of  life  when  he  ought  to  have 
been  engaged  in  applying  them.  Never,  to  the  end  of  his  days,  did 
he  feel  the  confidence  due  to  a  complete  technical  mastery  of  his  craft. 

1  No.  746.     Portrait  of  Mr.  G.  Adams. 

2  Since  justness  of  proportion,  in  relations  of  form  and   quantity,  is  the  leading  aim  of 
the  so-called   '  classic '  style,  the  mathematician   might,  one  would   think,  put  in  as  fair  a 
claim  as  the  scholar's  to  a  share  in  the  nomenclature. 

'  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  195. 


CH.  v     THE    SOCIETY    FOUNDED— BARRET   AND    CRISTALL          179 

Cristall  was  a  son  of  a  Scotch  sea-captain,  '  Joseph  Alexander 
Cristall,  an  Arbroath  man,' '  who  before  the  artist's  birth  had  hailed 
from  Cornwall.  There  he  married  a  widow  of  Penzance,  who  in 
course  of  time,  and  in  addition  to  one  '  incumbrance  '  by  her  former 
husband,2  presented  him  with  three  sons  and  two  daughters,  not  too 
amply  provided  for.  Joshua  is  said  to  have  been  born  in  1767?  either 
at  Camborne  in  Cornwall,  or,  according  to  another  account,  in  the 
heart  of  London  city,  not  far  from  the  shadow  of  Aldgate  Pump. 
Be  that  as  it  may,  his  parents  lived  at  Rotherhithe 4  during  part  at 
least  of  his  early  boyhood.  The  father,  much  at  sea,  trading  princi- 
pally to  Turkey,  though  he  had  at  one  time  and  another  been  all 
over  the  world,  left  the  children's  education  chiefly  in  their  mother's 
hands.  It  was  well  that  he  did  so,  for  she  paid  the  school  fees  out 
of  a  small  separate  income  of  her  own,  which  appears  to  have  been 
a  bone  of  contention  between  husband  and  wife.  The  father  was 
of  an  extremely  jealous  disposition,  and  his  time  ashore  was  usually 
a  period  of  trouble  and  discomfort  in  the  family.  Besides  this,  the 
mother  was  a  capable  person,  of  a  nature  befitting  her  Cornish 
descent — strong,  quick,  active,  and  persevering,  and,  moreover,  a 
woman  of  education  and  taste.  Some  of  the  above  qualities  were 
transmitted  to  two  at  least  of  her  children — the  boy  Joshua  and  the 
elder  girl.5  Both  were  remarkable  for  natural  talent,  quick  per- 
ception, and  great  perseverance,  as  well  as  for  good  taste  and 
refinement  of  feeling.  Cristall  in  after  life  seldom  spoke  of  his 
father,  but  described  his  mother  as  a  '  strong-minded  woman.'  And 
he  was  particularly  attached  to  his  elder  sister.  They  studied 
together  as  children,  and  hand  in  hand  did  they  daily  walk  to  London 
and  back  for  their  schooling  when  the  family  lived  at  Rotherhithe. 

1  Dictionary  of  National  Biography. 

2  J.  J.  J.  MSS.  ex  relations  Miss  E.  Cristall.     Messrs.   Redgrave  (Century  of  Painters, 
i.  508)  say  that  she  was  a  daughter  of  Mr.  John  Batten,  a  merchant  of  Penzance  ;  and  Mr. 
W.  H.  Tregellas  (Diet.  Nat.  Biog.)  states  that  her  name  was  Ann  Batten  Cristall,  and  that 
she  was  born  in  1745  ;  but  neither  mentions  a  previous  marriage. 

3  Biographers  concur  in  giving  this  date.     But  Cristall  himself,  in  a  letter  in  August 
1839,  writes  that  he  has  then   'commenced  his  7 1st  year,'  which  would  seem  to  place  his 
birth  in  1769. 

1  Mr.  Tregellas  (itlii  supra")  believes  that,  besides  being  owner  of  a  trading  vessel,  J.  A. 
Cristall  was  '  a  shipbreaker,  having  yards  at  Rotherhithe,  Penzance,  and  Fowey.'  In  the 
New  Annual  Directory  1800,  and  the  Post  Office  Directory  1806,  we  find  the  name  and 
address  '  Alexander  Cristall,  Sail,  Mast,  &  Block-maker,  297  Rotherhithe.' 

5  Mr.  Tregellas  (ubi  supra}  tells  us  that  she  wrote  some  Poetical  Sketches,  published  in 
1795,  and  that  both  she  and  her  sister  were  engaged  in  tuition. 

N  2 


iSo  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  BK.  in 

The  artist  showed  his  natural  bent  in  very  early  days,  even  when 
he  was  still  '  in  petticoats.  He  used  his  mother's  scissors  to  cut  out 
the  objects  around  him  in  paper,  which  induced  her  to  furnish  him 
with  a  pencil,  and  he  used  it  to  aid  his  amusements.  When  he  was 
taken  to  the  theatre  he  remembered  the  scenes  and  copied  them,  to 
act  them  over  again  ;  and  thus  on  all  occasions,  for  pleasure,  the 
pencil  was  resorted  to.' '  His  scanty  pocket  money  went  to  purchase 
Spanish  liquorice,  which  he  employed  as  a  water-colour  to  adorn 
the  whitewash  of  his  bedroom  walls  with  spirited  designs.2  An 
early  fondness  for  music  accompanied  this  love  of  drawing.  In 
another  way,  too,  his  mother  was  able  to  aid  in  the  cultivation 
of  his  taste.  Endowed  with  a  wonderfully  retentive  memory,  she 
used  when  he  was  a  little  boy  to  recite  to  him  passages  from  the 
poets,  Shakspere  being  her  particular  delight.  Joshua  was  always 
her  favourite  child  ;  and  great  was  her  disappointment  when  his 
godfather,  from  whom  she  had  expected  help  on  his  commencing 
life,  died  rich,  but  left  him  nothing. 

While  Cristall  was  still  a  boy  his  parents  removed  to  Blackheath, 
where  they  lived  for  twenty-one  years.  But  it  was  only  during  a 
small  portion  of  that  term  that  he  remained  a  member  of  the 
domestic  circle.  He  was  sent  for  a  short  time  to  a  school  at 
Greenwich.  Meanwhile  he  had  another  opportunity  of  improving 
his  mind.  There  was  then,  as  there  is  now,  on  the  south  side  of  the 
heath,  a  quiet  old  brick  building  of  a  substantial  kind,  with  pleasant 
grounds  about  it,  where  '  decayed  Turkey  merchants '  rested  after 
their  labours,  and  passed  the  evenings  of  their  lives  in  comfort  and 
tranquillity.  It  was  called  Morden  College,  after  its  founder,  Sir 
John  Morden,  who  gave  its  first  benefaction  in  memory  of  a  fortune 
made  at  Aleppo.  It  was  probably  through  Captain  Cristall's  con- 
nexion with  the  trade  to  the  Levant  that  his  son  came  to  make  the 
acquaintance  of  a  pensioner  there,  who  took  a  great  fancy  to  the 
lad.  His  name  was  Pollard.  He  had  a  folio  copy  of  Dryden's 
translation  of  Virgil,  from  which  he  would  read  aloud  to  his  young 
friend,  and  thus  helped  to  develop  the  poetic  sentiment  already 
aroused  in  him  by  his  mother's  recitals.  Finally,  he  made  him  a 
present  of  the  precious  volume,  which  Cristall  treasured  through 
life.  Mr.  Jenkins  makes  a  memorandum  that  on  the  2oth  of  May, 
1851,  Miss  Elizabeth  Cristall  showed  him  the  book  with  its  quaint 

1   Miss  E.  Cristall.  2  Century  of  Painters,  i.  508. 


CH.  V     THE   SOCIETY    FOUNDED— BARRET   AND   CKISTALL          181 

old  plates,  and  the  names  'William  Pollard'  and  'Joshua  Cristall ' 
inscribed  within.  She  had  then  survived  her  brother,  and  was  an 
old  lady  turned  eighty,  but  could  read  it,  as  well  as  work,  without 
glasses. 

These  days  of  springtide  hope  were  all  too  short.  When  the 
time  came  to  launch  the  young  man  into  the  world,  there  arose  the 
old  familiar  contest  between  a  son's  natural  longing  and  a  parent's 
unsympathetic  will.  Cristall's  father,  like  Nicholson's  and  Varley's, 
had  a  dread  of  the  arts,  and  looked  upon  the  profession  of  a  painter 
as  a  sure  road  to  penury.  Bred  himself  to  mercantile  pursuits,  he 
was  wholly  for  trade.  So  Joshua  was  placed  with  a  Mr.  Ewson,  of 
Aldgate,  who  did  a  good  business  in  china  and  glass.  But  the  mind 
of  young  Cristall  ran  upon  higher  art  than  tea-cups  and  tumblers. 
It  happened  that  the  way  in  which  he  exercised  his  pencil  became 
a  means  of  introduction  to  the  favour  of  his  employers.  Mrs.  Ewson, 
having  no  children,  had  set  her  affections  upon  a  dog,  a  rough 
water-spaniel.  This  pet  of  his  mistress's  served  Cristall  for  a  model. 
He  made  an  excellent  drawing  of  it,  which  so  struck  Mr.  Ewson's 
fancy  that  he  had  it  framed  and  hung  up  during  his  wife's  absence 
as  a  surprise  to  her  on  her  return  home.  The  result  was  highly 
successful.  Not  only  was  Mrs.  Ewson  delighted  with  the  portrait, 
but  the  draftsman  became  a  prime  favourite  with  the  worthy  couple. 
So  much  so,  indeed,  that,  had  Cristall  been  of  his  father's  way  of 
thinking,  his  fortune  would  from  that  time  have  been  as  good  as 
made.  For  the  Ewsons'  was  a  lucrative  concern,  and,  both  of  them 
dying  soon  after,  it  was  offered  gratuitously  to  the  young  artist. 

But  Cristall  could  not  make  up  his  mind  to  abandon  thus  all 
hope  of  becoming  a  painter,  and  refused  the  offer.  Not  that  he  had 
any  visible  prospect  of  attaining  his  desire.  He  had  no  means  at 
his  disposal,  and  was  again  obliged  to  accept  temporary  employment 
in  the  service  of  trade.  It  was  possibly  through  connexions  made 
in  the  Aldgate  business  that  he  obtained  a  situation  at  Turner's 
celebrated  china  factory,  near  Broseley  in  Shropshire.  How  he  com- 
ported himself  there,  and  what  were  his  wishes  and  intentions  at  this 
time,  may  in  some  measure  be  inferred  from  the  following  extracts 
from  two  letters  of  serious  and  judicious  advice,  written  to  him  by 
the  celebrated  Mary  Wollstonecraft ;  who  appears  from  their  internal 
evidence  to  haye  been  a  kind  and  considerate  friend,  both  to  him  and 
to  his  sister.  These  letters  are  believed  to  have  been  written  both  in 


182  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  ill 

one  year.     The  date  1793,  or  thereabouts,  has  been  assigned  to  them, 
but  it  seems  moie  likely  that  it  was  three  or  four  years  earlier. 

'  To  Mr.  Cristall,  at  Mr.  Turner's  China  Manufactory,  near  Broscly, 

Salop. 

'  London  :  March  igth. 

' .  .  .  I  think  you  ingenious,  yet  I  am  afraid  that  you  are  too 
sanguine  in  your  expectations  of  succeeding  as  an  artist.  Besides 
abilities,  a  happy  concurrence  of  circumstances  is  necessary  to  enable  a 
painter  to  earn  a  livelihood  ;  and  many  years  of  anxiety  and  painful 
industry  must  be  passed,  before  a  man  of  superior  talents  can  look 
with  any  certainty  for  to-morrow's  subsistence.  You  admire  Mr. 
Home's  picture ;  yet  he  was  obliged  to  leave  the  kingdom  because 
he  could  not  get  employment.1  And  Mr.  F.,2  with  his  original  genius 
and  uncommon  diligence,  had  a  very  precarious  support  till  the 
Shakespear  plan  commenced.  In  short,  I  could  mention  many  other 
circumstances ;  but  it  appears  unnecessary,  for  you  will  not  put 
yourself  on  a  par  with  Mr.  Home,  I  am  sure.  However,  my  argu- 
ments are  not  brought  forward  to  discourage  you  from  following  in 
some  degree  your  bent.  I  only  wish  to  caution  you  against  the 
headstrong  ardour  of  youth.  Pursue  your  studies.  Practise  as 
much  as  you  can  ;  but  do  not  think  of  depending  on  painting  for  a 
subsistence  before  you  know  the  first  rudiments  of  the  art.  I  know 
that  you  wish  to  be  the  friend  and  protector  of  your  amiable  sister, 
and  hope  no  inconsiderate  act  or  thoughtless  mode  of  conduct  will 
add  to  her  cares,  for  her  comfort  very  much  depends  on  you.  I  find 
Mr.  Turner  intends  to  send  you  to  travel  for  him  very  soon.  This 
will  in  every  respect  be  a  great  advantage  to  you.  You  will  see  the 
country,  form  connections,  and  have  more  leisure  to  improve.  Pray 
let  me  hear  from  you  soon  and  tell  me  what  you  intend  to  do,  and  I 
will  candidly  give  you  my  opinion  ;  and,  as  I  have  had  more  ex- 
perience than  you,  it  may  be  useful  to  you.  I  now  write  in  a  hurry 
because  the  post  is  going,  but  I  wish  I  could  forcibly  represent  to 
you  the  necessity  of  following  your  inclinations  with  caution.  A 

1  Robert  Home  was  a  brother  of  Sir  Everard  Home,  the  anatomist,  and  a  pupil  of 
Angelica  Kauffman's.  After  painting  portraits  in  Dublin  and  exhibiting  his  works  there  and 
in  London,  he  went  to  India,  was  appointed  court-painter  to  the  King  of  Oude,  and  then 
made  a  fortune  by  his  profession.  He  chiefly  depicted  military  subjects  and  state  cere- 
monials. (Redgrave's  Dictionary.} 

*  Fuseli,  R.A.     He  painted  eight  or  nine  subjects  for  Boydell's  Shakspere  Gallery. 


CH.  V     THE    SOCIETY   FOUNDED— BARRET   AND    CRISTALL          183 

man's  character  is  of  the  greatest  importance  in  any  line ;  and  if  you 
determine  to  leave  Mr.  Turner  when  your  time  expires,  I  hope  you 
will  be  careful  not  to  quarrel  with  him.  .  .  .  How  do  you  come  on  with 
your  Music  and  Drawing?  You  scarcely  know  what  industry  is  re- 
quired to  arrive  at  a  degree  of  perfection  in  the  Fine  Arts,  and  how 
dreadful  it  is  to  plunge  into  the  world  without  friends  or  acknowledged 
abilities.  I  have  lately  made  some  inquiries,  and  I  think  that  it 
would  be  next  to  madness  for  you  to  launch  out  before  you  made  any 
preparatory  steps.  London  is  not  now  paved  with  gold,  and  a  false 
step  in  the  beginning  of  life  frequently  throws  a  gloomy  cloud  over 
the  fairest  hopes.  If  you  determine  to  become  a  painter,  declare 
your  intention  to  your  master,  father,  and  friends  in  a  manly  manner ; 
when  you  have  courage  to  do  so,  and  act  with  firmness  instead  of 
rashness,  I  shall  begin  to  think  that  you  have  some  chance  to  succeed. 
A  weak  man  may  be  rash,  but  only  a  strong  understanding  can  enable 
a  youth  to  act  with  firmness.  Should  I  perceive  such  strength  of 
mind  in  you,  I  shall  suppose  that  you  follow  the  impulse  of  nature, 
and  are  not  led  away  by  unprincipled  wishes,  wild  desires  which  make 
you  selfishly  forget  your  sister's  peace  of  mind  and  your  own  future 
advantage.  Virtue  is  self-denial.  If  you  cannot  bear  some  present 
inconvenience,  you  are  a  common  man  and  will  never  rise  to  any 
degree  of  eminence  in  anything  you  undertake.  I  am  yours, 

'M.  W.' 
The  second  letter  is  in  a  like  strain. 

'  To  Mr.  Cristall,  Caugliley,  near  Brosely,  Salop. 

'  London  :  December  9th. 

'  Your  sister  has,  I  hope,  long  since  informed  you  that  my  silence 
was  not  an  intentional  slight,  but  the  natural  consequence  of  various 
circumstances.  My  time  is  fully  employed,  and  when  I  cannot 
attend  to  the  pursuits  which  on  every  account  occupy  my  mind,  I  am 
not  in  a  humour  to  write.  I  want  air  and  exercise.  Indeed  I 
am  grown  a  wretched  correspondent,  when  neither  duty  nor  business 
impels  me.  I  am  sorry  to  hear  that  you  are  yet  unsettled,  halting 
between  two  opinions.  You  ought  resolutely  to  determine  on  the 
part  you  mean  to  act  in  life,  and  adhere  to  your  determination.  If 
you  waver  much  longer,  you  will  spend  your  most  vigorous  days  in 
childish  wishes,  and,  instead  of  being  useful  to  your  sisters,  become 
a  burden  to  yourself.  Determine  like  a  man  whether  Drawing  is  to 


184  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  in 

be  the  business  or  amusement  of  your  future  life ;  and  banish  vain 
icgrets  if  you  ever  intend  to  make  a  respectable  figure  in  the  world. 
With  respect  to  music,  I  would  by  all  means  have  you  cultivate  your 
taste.  When  nature  gives  a  propensity,  it  ought  not  to  be  neglected  ; 
and  every  accomplishment  you  acquire  will  render  you  a  more  agree- 
able companion,  and  furnish  you  with  an  innocent  source  of  pleasure 
when  you  are  alone.  And  every  innocent  relaxation  is  a  support  to 
virtue ;  for  I  respect  the  good  old  proverb  that  Idleness  is  the  mother 
of  Vice,  and  I  am  persuaded  that  our  greatest  comforts  must  arise 
from  employment.  But  I  need  not  tell  you  so,  for  you  are  always 
active  and  eager  to  improve  yourself  and  make  a  proper  use  of  your 
time.  ...  I  have  seldom  seen  your  sister  since  you  left  town.  I  fear 
her  situation  is  still  very  uncomfortable.  I  wish  she  could  obtain  a 
little  more  strength  of  mind.  I  am  afraid  she  gives  way  to  her  feel- 
ings more  than  she  ought  to  do.  If  I  were  to  give  a  short  definition 
of  virtue,  I  should  call  it  fortitude.  Adieu.  Believe  me  your  friend, 

'MARY  WOLLSTONECRAFT.' 

The  omitted  passages  refer  to  a  brother  of  the  writer's,  whom  she 
describes  as  an  idle,  dissipated  young  man,  warning  Cristall  against 
him  as  a  dangerous  associate  and  bad  example. 

The  appointment  as  traveller  to  Turner's  firm,  referred  to  in  one 
of  the  above  letters,  had  been  obtained  by  Cristall  at  his  own  solicita- 
tion. But  the  life  does  not  seem  to  have  been  very  congenial  to  him. 
He  was  not  of  a  nature  to  push  his  way  by  making  connexions,  as  his 
good  friend  had  anticipated.  While  travelling  through  England  and 
Wales,  his  thoughts  ran  more  on  the  picturesque  than  on  a  mercantile 
position.  Part  of  his  time  was  spent  in  sketching  the  old  ruins  and 
abbeys  that  he  met  with  in  his  journeys  ;  too  much  it  is  to  be  feared, 
for,  somehow,  his  engagement  came  to  an  end  before  the  expiration 
of  the  term  agreed  upon.  Either  he  abandoned  it  himself,  or  his 
employers,  finding  that  he  paid  more  attention  to  his  pencil  than  to 
their  books,  superseded  him.  After  this  second  break-down  of  the 
young  man's  prospects  in  trade,  his  return  caused  such  dissatisfaction 
in  the  family  that  he  was  induced  to  keep  from  their  knowledge  the 
troubles  he  afterwards  encountered. 

It  may  have  been  about  this  time  (but  the  dates  are  very  con- 
jectural) that  any  further  pecuniary  help  which  he  might  have  derived 
from  his  father  was  rendered  impossible  by  a  blow  which  fell  upon  the 


CH.  v     THE    SOCIETY   FOUNDED— BARRET   AND   CRISTALL         185 

family.  Mr.  Cristall  became  paralytic,  and  was  ruined  by  the  fault  or 
mismanagement  of  dependants,  in  some  business  which  he  had  con- 
ducted, he  not  having  at  the  time  a  son  old  enough  to  supply  his 
place.  Young  Cristall's  life  was  now  a  hard  one,  trials  and  disap- 
pointments succeeding  one  another  apace.  Having  to  earn  his  daily 
bread,  he  first  obtained,  through  a  friend,  a  situation  as  a  copying 
clerk.  But  to  his  active  mind  the  drudgery  was  an  irksome  task.  He 
longed  to  be  at  his  pencil,  or  enjoying  the  beauties  of  nature,  in  free- 
dom. Detesting  his  employment,  and  dozing  over  his  desk,  he  was 
unable  to  get  through  the  amount  of  writing  required  of  him.  His 
master  complained,  and  on  coming  in  one  day  found  him  asleep  on 
his  stool.  On  receiving  the  sharp  reproof  that  might  have  been  ex- 
pected, poor  Joshua  answered  plainly  that  the  work  was  too  dull  for 
him,  and  that  he  could  only  be  active  in  what  he  loved.  This  of  course 
ended  in  his  dismissal. 

He  was  at  large  again,  and  would  study  glorious  nature.  But 
again,  and  again,  he  had  to  live.  The  friend  who  had  assisted  him 
before,  and  to  whom  he  now  once  more  applied  for  advice,  blamed  him 
for  his  conduct,  and  then  suggested  that  he  should  try  an  employment 
having  in  it  some  relation  to,  or  spice  of  the  fine  arts.  '  You  can 
draw,'  said  he,  '  and  have  had  means  of  observation  while  at  the 
Potteries.  I  think  you  might  try  that  branch.  I  will  give  you  a  set 
of  china  '  (jars  apparently), '  for  you  to  do  your  best  with,  and  if  I  like 
your  work  I  will  put  you  forward.'  Cristall's  ambition  was  still  for  a 
higher  style  of  art,  but  to  refuse  the  work  would  be  to  lose  an  impor- 
tant friend.  He  accepted  the  task,  trial  as  it  was  to  him.  Some  in- 
struction, however,  was  necessary,  even  to  accomplish  this.  So,  seek- 
ing for  one  who  might  teach  him  the  technical  matters  needful  to  its 
completion,  he  found  a  man  who,  for  a  sum  of  money  (it  was  all  the 
pupil  had),  allowed  him  not  only  to  work  daily  with  his  own  artificers, 
but  to  continue  work  after  the  others  had  gone.  Then  he  found 
courage  to  confess  that  he  had  given  his  last  shilling,  and  was  also 
without  a  home.  After  that,  he  was  permitted  to  stay  all  night  in 
the  workshop,  where  he  slept  on  stools  before  the  stove,  covered  by 
the  men's  working  coats.  How  he  kept  himself  from  starving,  it  is 
hard  to  say.  Perhaps  bis  mother  helped  him  clandestinely,  as  it  is 
said  she  long  continued  to  do.  He  did  not  allow  the  workmen  to 
know  of  his  dependent  situation.  Rising  with  the  sun,  he  would  walk 
to  Hampstead  or  to  Kentish  Town,  then  full  of  lovely  country  scenery, 


186  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  in 

would  wash  in  some  stream,  breakfast  on  a  dry  loaf  and  water,  and 
cheer  his  spirit  with  a  pure  draught  from  nature's  loveliness  ;  returning 
to  his  work  at  the  time  when  the  men  came  to  theirs,  as  if  he,  like 
them,  had  a  home  which  he  had  just  left.  One  morning,  on  his  re- 
turn, he  found,  to  his  utter  dismay,  that  the  master  who  had  so  far 
befriended  him  had  decamped,  taking  everything  away  with  him,  except 
the  china  which  Cristall  was  painting.  The  man  was  deeply  in  debt 
to  his  workmen  as  well  as  to  the  tradespeople  who  had  employed  him. 

Bitter  indeed  was  poor  Cristall's  anguish  at  the  event,  and  the 
terribly  false  position  in  which  it  placed  him.  But  things  at  their 
worst  are  apt  to  mend  ;  and  a  promise  of  better  times  arose  even  out 
of  these  evil  circumstances.  Among  the  persons  who  had  given  work 
to  the  runaway  painter  of  crockery,  and  had  suffered  by  his  default, 
was  a  Mr.  Lacklan  ;  who,  on  coming  to  look  after  his  own  interests, 
found  our  hero  sitting,  bewildered  and  disconsolate,  in  the  denuded 
workshop.  Going  up  to  him,  Mr.  Lacklan  proceeded  to  inquire  of 
him  the  particulars  of  the  man's  departure.  Whereupon  Cristall  told 
him  of  his  own  melancholy  condition.  The  hearer  had  pity  on  him 
in  his  forlorn  state,  and  took  him  to  the  home  where  he  resided  with 
his  wife's  parents.  In  the  house  of  these  truly  charitable  persons, 
whose  name  was  Clayton,  the  poor  young  man  was  received  with 
Christian  sympathy  and  kindness,  for  which  he  never  after  ceased  to 
express  a  heartfelt  gratitude. 

Mr.  Lacklan  contrived  that  he  should  go  on  with  his  work,  alone 
with  him  and  under  his  observation  ;  and,  when  the  painting  was 
finished,  got  some  one  in  the  trade  to  fire  the  pieces.  Cristall  at 
length  placed  them  in  the  hands  of  the  friend  who  had  entrusted 
them  to  him  ;  but,  after  recounting  the  difficulties  he  had  met  with  in 
accomplishing  the  task,  declined  to  try  his  skill  upon  any  more.1  He 
had  now  a  home  at  Mr.  Clayton's,2  and  could  take  more  time  to  look 
about  him.  But  he  did  not,  even  yet,  see  an  opening  through  which 
to  enter  the  profession  of  which  he  longed  to  be  a  member. 

1  Whether  these  were  the  first  or  only  china  enamels  executed  by  him  is  perhaps  doubtful. 
'When'  (on  II  Dec.  1851)  'I  called,'  writes  Mr.  Jenkins,  'on  Mr.  Dorrell '  (member  of  the 
Water-Colour  Society,  born    1778,  died   1857)  '  to  glean  some  particulars  of  his  old  friend 
Cristall,  he  told  me  that  Cristall,  early  in  life,  was  engaged  at  the  Potteries,  and  took  from 
his  mantleshelf  a  small  specimen  of  china,  which  he  placed  in  my  hands,  stating  that  it  was 
painted  by  Cristall.' 

2  Many  of  the   particulars  of  this  narrative  are  derived  from  notes  furnished  to  Mr. 
Jenkins    by  Mrs.    M'Ketchnie,   a  granddaughter  of  this   Mr.    Clayton's,   to  whom  Joshua 
Cristall  stood  godfather. 


CH.  v     THE   SOCIETY    FOUNDED-BARRET   AND    CRISTALL          187 

Mr.  Lacklan  had  originally  been  a  print-designer,  and  it  was 
probably  through  him  that  Cristall  soon  after  this  obtained  a  situation 
in  a  large  printing  establishment  at  Old  Ford,  where  he  remained  for 
a  considerable  time.  This  house  was  admirably  managed,  and  con- 
ducted with  a  benevolent  regard  for  the  well-being  of  the  employes. 
The  building  they  lived  in  was  large,  and  commodiously  adapted  to 
the  purpose  of  enabling  many  men  to  associate  together  after  business 
hours.  They  had  a  great  room,  furnished,  it  would  seem,  with  books, 
in  which  they  met  for  reading  and  discussion,  and  where  any 
favourite  branch  of  study  might  be  pursued.  At  the  head  of  the 
establishment,  either  as  master  or  foreman,  was  a  well-informed 
Scotchman,  by  whom  Cristall's  studies  were  greatly  aided,  both  in 
drawing  and  in  reading.  He  would  point  out  the  best  authors, 
and  suggest  a  course  calculated  to  improve  the  mind.  On  Sunday 
they  were  visited  by  a  Unitarian  minister,  and  on  particular  evenings 
they  held  theological  discussions  with  him,  on  his  own  creed,  the 
doctrines  of  Swedenborg,  &c.  Here  our  student,  though  lean  enough 
to  begin  with,  resolved  to  put  his  body,  as  well  as  his  mind,  through 
a  course  of  training.  He  entered  into  an  agreement  with  a  Scotch 
comrade,  to  live,  both  of  them,  for  twelve  months,  wholly  on  salt  pork 
and  rice.  They  procured  between  them  a  barrel  of  the  one  and  a 
bag  of  the  other,  and  stuck  strictly  to  their  engagement.  At  the  end 
of  the  year,  they  had  no  wish  to  renew  it,  although,  as  Cristall  often 
declared  afterwards,  they  were  never  better  in  their  lives.  When  he 
left  Old  Ford,  it  was  with  a  final  determination  to  enter  life  as  an 
artist. 

His  father  probably  died  at  about  this  time ;  for  Miss  Cristall 
states  that  it  was  not  until  after  that  event  that  he  entered  on  his 
favourite  occupation.  The  Lacklans  had  now  ceased  to  reside  at  Mr. 
Clayton's,  and  gone  to  live  at  28  Surrey  Street,  Blackfriars  Road. 
Cristall  took  up  his  abode  there  also,  and,  except  during  an  occasional 
residence  out  of  town,  dwelt  with  them  for  the  next  twelve  years. 
His  sister  Elizabeth  came  to  live  with  him,  and  participated  in  the 
endeavours  he  made  to  obtain  a  foothold  on  the  ladder  of  life.  They 
were  thrown  upon  the  world  without  property  ;  but  he  persisted  in 
following  his  decided  bent,  and  tried  at  every  avenue  to  the  profession 
of  art.  Not  satisfied  with  enamelling,  he  took  up  engraving,  and  for 
a  short  time  '  worked  with  Barlow  '  (probably  J.  Barlow,  who  executed 
plates  in  Ireland's  '  Hogarth,'  Rees's  '  Encyclopedia,'  &c.).  But  it  would 


188  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE   SOCIETY  EK.  in 

not  do.  Then  it  was  proposed  between  them  that  he  should  draw 
and  Miss  Cristall  engrave.  But  this  scheme  was  abandoned  on  the 
representation  of  Holloway,  the  leading  engraver  of  the  day,  that  a 
lady  could  not  be  regularly  taught  unless  she  lived  with  a  father  or 
relative  who  could  instruct  her.1  She  could  not  be  taken  as  an 
apprentice,  and  no  separate  lessons  could  be  given.  Women  had  not 
then  the  facilities  for  education  which  they  now  enjoy.  So  this  idea 
with  the  others  had  to  be  given  up  ;  and  some  years  after  Cristall 
had  attained  his  majority,  he  became  a  student  of  the  Royal 
Academy.2 

He  now  began  to  breathe  the  air  which  his  constitution  demanded. 
The  progress  of  development  was  rapid,  albeit  he  could  never  overtake 
the  lost  moments  of  his  many  wasted  years.  He  studied  anatomy, 
and  his  taste  for  classic  art  was  formed  and  strengthened  by  the 
models  placed  before  him.  He  attended  Barry's  lectures,  was  fired  by 
his  enthusiasm,  and  wished  to  follow  his  example.  The  professor 
told  the  students  that  artists  could  live  at  Rome,  as  he  had  done,  on 
fourpence  a  day.  So  thither  Joshua  Cristall  and  Miss  Elizabeth 
resolved  to  trudge  together  hand  in  hand,  even  as  he  and  his  elder 
sister  had  gone  to  school  in  childhood  from  their  old  home  at 
Rotherhithe.  They  could  walk  all  the  way,  and  improve  their  talents 
on  the  road.  But  war  with  France  broke  out,  and  this  project,  too, 
had  to  be  set  aside. 

Cristall  seems  now  to  have  turned  his  attention  more  seriously  to 
the  use  of  water-colours  as  affording  sufficient  means  of  expression 
of  his  artistic  ideas.  A  folio  of  drawings  by  Raphael,  which  he  had 
observed  to  be  in  good  preservation,  appear  to  have  been  some 
encouragement  to  him  in  his  endeavours.  He  thought  that  water- 
colour  sketches  might  be  heightened  and  improved  from  the  mere 
washes  which  they  formerly  were.  '  At  last,'  adds  Miss  Cristall,  after 
making  the  above  statement,  '  he  succeeded  and  made  pictures.  But 
his  best  years  were  cruelly  wasted.  Want  of  proper  instruction  made 
him  dissatisfied  with  what  he  did,  and  I  used  to  grieve  to  see 
repeatedly  beautiful  scenes  and  ideas  in  figure  and  landscape  painted 
over,  or  turned  and  used  on  the  opposite  side.  More  than  has  come 
out  has  been  so  wasted.  His  higher  qualities  have  been  sadly  lost. 

1  Byrne  and  Lowry  taught  their  daughters  to  engrave. 

2  Miss  Cristall  assigns  the  year  1795  or  thereabouts  to  this  event,  but  it  seems  by  what 
follows  to  have  been  somewhat  earlier. 


CH.  v     THE   SOCIETY    FOUNDED— BARRET   AND    CRISTALL          189 

...  I  could  not  but  deplore  that  such  decided  and  real  genius  should, 
through  unfortunate  prepossessions  in  his  father,  be  almost  cast  away. 
...  I  cannot  give  dates,  except  that  in  1795  we  two  were  living 
together.' ' 

The  time  came  at  last  when  the  artist  was  able,  though  barely,  to 
shift  for  himself.  It  was  so  in  an  unfigurative  sense,  for  his  mother 
complained  that  she  had  had  to  buy  his  shirts  for  him  when  he  was 
thirty.  But  he  was,  as  above  said,  her  favourite  child,  and  out  of  her 
little  annuity  she  still  helped  him  occasionally  with  clothes  at  a  time 
of  life  when  men  are  generally  making  their  best  income. 

The  steps  whereby  Cristall  came  in  course  of  time  to  be  numbered 
as  one  of  the  little  clique  of  water-colour  painters  of  talent  known  to 
connoisseurs  at  the  end  of  the  century,  it  would  be  difficult  to  count 
exactly.2  But  one  aid  to  improvement,  at  least,  may  be  confidently 
set  down  to  the  influence  of  the  good  friend  of  all  striving  young 
artists  of  his  class,  Dr.  Monro,  at  whose  house  he  attended  as  one  of 
the  group  of  students  so  often  mentioned  in  these  pages.3 

The  late  Dr.  Percy  in  his  MS.  Catalogue,  now  at  the  British 
Museum,  states  that  he  saw  in  1881,  at  Sir  John  St.  Aubyn's,  at 
Mount's  Bay,  Cornwall,  some  large  drawings  of  that  county  signed 
'  J.  Cristall,'  with  a  date  about  1790  or  somewhat  later, '  very  carefully 
done  and  of  a  prevailing  blue  colour.' 

One  of  the  first  professional  efforts  of  his  brush  was  in  a  share 
which  he  took  in  painting  an  early  panorama,  which  circumstance 
caused  him  ever  after  to  take  a  great  interest  in  that  branch  of  art. 
This  one  represented  Constantinople  ;  and«it  was  painted  in  the  great 
room  at  Spring  Gardens,  where  Girtin's  '  London '  was  afterwards 
exhibited.  One  of  his  coadjutors  was  a  comrade  of  the  name  of 
Hayward,  with  whom  he  had  made  acquaintance  at  the  works  at  Old 

1  Letter  from  Miss  Cristall  to  Mrs.  Clivc,  dated  '  Lewisham  Hill,  April  8th,  1851.' 

2  The  account  given  by  Mrs.  M'Ketchnie  of  Cristall's  earlier  life  contains  the  following 
passage,  which  is  here  given  for  what  it  is  worth,  though  it  varies  in  some  particulars  from 
the  history  of  the  origin  of  the  Water-Colour  Society  as  above  recounted  :  '  He  was  studying 
hard  as  a  portrait  painter,  and  his  admirers  considered  he  would  have  excelled  Sir  Thomas 
Lawrence  had  he  continued  at  it ;  but  one  day  when  returning  from  sketching  he  met 
Varley,  Girtin,  and  another  whose  name  I  forget.     They  told  him  they  had  been  talking  of 
forming  a  society  for  exhibiting  water-colour  drawings,  and  asked  him  to  join  them  ;  he  said 
with  all  his  heart.     Thus  the  Society  was  formed,  and  his  portrait  painting  discarded,  which 
sadly  grieved   his  admirers.'     If  this  be  correct,  it  gives  to  Girtin  (at  least)  a  share  not 
hitherto  accredited  to  him  in  the  origination  of  our  Society,  and,  as  he  died  in  1802,  seems 
to  assign  to  it  a  somewhat  earlier  date. 

'  Redgrave's  Dictionary. 


190  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE    SOCIETY  BK.  in 

Ford,  attracted  probably  by  their  common  proclivity  to  art.1  It  was 
an  intensely  cold  winter,  during  which  Cristall  endured  much  suffer- 
ing ;  one  of  the  specially  recorded  frosts,  possibly  the  same  in  which 
Thaddeus  of  Warsaw  (or  John  Sell  Cotman)  came  to  London  as  afore- 
mentioned. The  young  painters  used  to  say  that  they  had  great 
difficulty  in  getting  through  their  work  ;  being  in  no  small  danger  of 
falling  from  the  very  high  scaffold  erected  for  their  purpose,  and  under 
the  vigilant  eye  of  a  proprietor  who  was  so  diligent  in  overlooking 
them,  that,  although  benumbed  with  cold,  they  were  unable  to  come 
down  and  warm  themselves. 

Cristall  also  began  to  take  pupils.  His  abilities  and  pleasing 
manners  soon  won  him  friends  ;  and  he  made  some  intimate  acquaint- 
ances with  leading  men  of  talent.  Among  them,  George  Dyer,  the 
poet  and  Greek  scholar,  became  a  constant  visitor ;  and  he  is  said  to 
have  conceived  aplatonic  affection  for  Miss  Cristall.  We  have  already 
found  our  artist  sketching  in  North  Wales  when  the  Varleys  met  him 
there  in  1802,  and  going  there  again  with  Cornelius  Varley  in  1803. 
He  was  enabled  to  make  these  tours  and  also  one  to  the  Lakes  by 
an  opportune  bequest  of  a  sum  of  money.2 

It  was  in  the  course  of  the  first  of  these  rambles  that  an  adventure 
occurred  which  placed  the  lives  of  Cristall  and  a  companion 3  in 
some  jeopardy.  Two  accounts  of  the  affair,  furnished  to  Mr.  Jenkins 
by  friends  of  Cristall  (Dorrell  and  Mrs.  M'Ketchnie),  agree  in  the 
main  particulars.  It  seems  that  the  party  had  to  put  up  for  a 
few  days  at  an  inn  in  a  mining  district,  where  the  people  were  much 
excited  by  the  prospect  of'a  French  invasion.  On  returning  one  day 
from  sketching,  our  artists  found  the  largest  room  in  the  house  filled 
with  colliers,  who,  having  taken  them  for  spies  making  plans  of  the 
country,  were  prepared  to  deal  with  them  after  the  fashion  of  Mr. 
Justice  Lynch.  Mutual  ignorance  of  language  prevented  an  expla- 
nation, and  matters  might  have  been  very  serious  had  it  not  been 
for  the  intervention  of  the  stout  landlord.  As  it  was,  the  supposed 
offenders  were  hurried  off  to  the  nearest  magistrate's.  But  here  a 
fresh  impediment  occurred.  His  worship,  'it  being  midday,'  was 

1  Presumably  J.  S.  Hayward,  mentioned  by  Redgrave  as  an  amateur  who  painted  well 
in  water-colours  and  exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy  from  1805  to  1812  both  figures  and 
landscapes  ;  and  probably  the  same  Hayward  who  was  Secretary  of  the  Sketching  Society. 

2  T.  J.  J-  tx  relatione  Dorrell.     There  are  small  studies  from  Wales,  dated  1803,  in  the 
collection  of  drawings  by  Cristall  at  the  British  Museum  ;   and  from  the  Lakes,  dated  1805, 
both  there  and  at  the  Scottish  National  Gallery  (Nos.  214,  249). 

•  Named  as  '  Webster  the  geologist.' 


CH.  V     THE   SOCIETY    FOUNDED— BARRET   AND    CRISTALL          191 

drunk,  and  falling  downstairs  in  an  attempt  to  answer  the  summons, 
remained  for  the  time  incapable.  Fortunately,  however,  the  reverend 
gentleman  (he  was  the  parson)  had  a  better  half,  who  became  their 
preserver.  She  could  speak  a  little  English,  and  was  able  to  grasp 
the  situation.  Using  the  influence  she  possessed,  which  was  consider- 
able, with  the  patriot  mob,  she  induced  them  to  wait  till  next  day,  the 
prisoners  remaining  in  custody  at  the  parsonage.  Then,  at  midnight, 
having  provided  three  horses,  she  rode  by  their  side  through  by-ways, 
brambles  and  thickets,  and  placed  them  in  safety  ten  miles  away. 

In  1803  Cristall  exhibits  at  the  Royal  Academy  ;  and  this  brings  us 
within  twelve  months  of  the  time  when,  at  the  age  of  thirty-five,  he 
was  induced  to  join  the  Society  of  water-colour  artists,  which  was  in 
course  of  formation.  His  address  in  the  Royal  Academy  Catalogue  for 
1803  is  '  137  High  Holborn  ; '  and  that  in  the  first  of  the  Society's  (for 
1805)  is  '  36  Berners  Street  and  at  Kentish  Town.1  Doubtless  he 
resided  in  the  last-named  quarter. 


192  THE    FOUNDING    OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  Ill 


CHAPTER   VI 
GLOVER,   HAVELL,  HOLWORTHY,  AND  RIGAUD 

John  Glover — Popular  teacher  and  artist — Birth  and  parentage— Writing-master — Taste  for 
agriculture — Love  of  animals  -Power  of  taming  birds — Taste  for  music — Early  subjects 
— Settles  at  Lichfield — Marriage  and  family — Personal  characteristics — Diligence  and 
activity — Sketching  in  Wales  and  Dovedale— Boyish  spirit — Works  at  the  Royal 
Academy — William  Havcll — Birth  and  parentage — Artist  family — Irrepressible  bent — 
Sketches  in  Wales — Exhibits  at  the  Royal  Academy — Painter  in  local  colour— -James 
Holworthy — Birth  and  antecedents  —  Friend  of  Turner's— S.  F.  Rigaud — Figure-painter 
— Antecedents. 

JOHN  GLOVER,  the  next  above-mentioned  of  the  new  adherents,  was 
an  artist  of  great  popularity  in  his  day.  Born  in  the  same  year  as 
Barret  and  Cristall,  he,  unlike  them,  was  not  only  well  established 
already  in  the  profession,  but  enjoyed  a  wide  appreciation  of  his  talent 
as  a  landscape-painter.  Although  of  an  humbler  origin  than  either, 
he  had  had  fewer  obstacles  to  contend  with  in  the  pursuit  of  his  chosen 
career.  Hitherto  his  success  had  been  in  a  measure  confined  to  the 
provinces ;  for,  although  he  had  exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy 
since  1795,  he  resided  at  Lichfield,  and  there  he  was  chiefly  engaged 
in  tuition,  both  '  public  and  private.' '  He  painted  in  oil,  as  well  as 
in  water-colours,  but  it  is  on  his  now  faded  works  in  the  latter  medium 
that  his  reputation  chiefly  rests.  His  practice,  technically  speaking, 
was  little  in  advance  of  the  old  tinted  method,  but  his  style  was  not 
devoid  of  originality,  and,  in  his  own  drawings,  showed  itself  capable 
of  producing  very  beautiful  effects.  It  was,  however,  not  free  from 
a  mannerism  which  recommended  it  to  a  tribe  of  pupils  who,  not 
being  like  himself  students  of  nature,  necessarily  failed  in  its  intended 
application. 

Glover  was  a  self-taught  artist ;  and,  although  his  practice  in 
water-colours  is  said  to  have  been  founded  on  that  of  William  Payne,2 
does  not  appear  to  have  derived  much  development  from  contact  with 

1  Art  Journal,  I  July,  1850.  *  Century  of  Painters,  i.  515. 


CH.  vi         GLOVER,  HAVELL,  HOLVVORTHY,  AND    RIGAUD  193 

the  greater  artists  of  the  rising  school.  His  manner  of  painting  was 
probably  settled  by  the  time  that  he  joined  the  Water-Colour  Society. 
A  fuller  analysis  of  his  practice  being  reserved  for  another  occasion, 
the  present  shall  be  devoted  to  an  account  of  his  antecedents  and 
personal  characteristics.  Some  of  the  following  anecdotes  refer,  indeed, 
to  a  rather  later  period  than  that  with  which  we  are  now  dealing,  but 
are  inserted  here  to  show  the  manner  of  man  that  he  must  have  been 
from  the  time,  at  least,  of  his  arrival  at  man's  estate. 

He  was  the  youngest  of  three  children,  and  born  at  Houghton- 
on-the-Hill,  about  six  miles  east  of  the  town  of  Leicester,  on  the 
1 8th  of  February,  1767.  His  father  was  a  poor  man,  engaged  in 
agriculture.  But  the  bucolic  cast  of  the  parent's  mind  did  not 
prevent  him  from  giving  his  children  a  good  plain  and  Christian 
education,  or  induce  him  to  check  his  son  John's  bias  towards  art, 
exhibited  in  the  child's  habit  of  covering  every  scrap  of  paper  he 
could  find  with  infantine  designs.  Young  Glover  could  handle  the 
pen  too  with  effect,  as  well  as  the  pencil,  and  became  so  great  a 
proficient  in  calligraphy,  that  when  he  grew  to  the  age  of  nineteen 
he  was  engaged  as  writing  master  in  the  free  school  at  Appleby.  He 
had  not,  in  the  mean  time,  like  some  of  his  rivals  in  art  already 
mentioned,  been  eating  out  his  heart  in  a  life  distasteful  to  him,  nor 
consuming  his  spirit  in  vain  endeavours  to  follow  a  congenial  pursuit, 
instead  of  the  plough.  He  had  a  natural  taste  for  agriculture,  which 
he  retained  to  the  end  of  his  days.  The  country  was  not  to  him,  as 
to  young  Nicholson,  a  region  of  mental  desolation.  His  love  of 
rural  scenery  was  accompanied  by  a  remarkable  fondness  for  animals. 
Cattle  are  among  the  favourite  subjects  of  his  early  drawings,  and  at 
one  time  he  took  to  painting  animals  as  large  as  life.  But  his 
peculiar  fancy  was  for  birds.  He  had  an  extraordinary  power  of 
taming  them,  and  delighted  in  making  them  his  pets.  These  he  held 
on  such  terms  of  attachment  that  he  would  allow  them  to  fly  away 
to  their  native  woods,  and  they  came  back  at  his  call  whenever  he 
pleased.  Perhaps  a  good  ear  for  music,  to  the  practice  of  which 
sister  art  he  was  much  addicted,  may  have  had  something  to  do 
with  the  fascination  he  commanded. 

There  can  be  no  doubt,  too,  that  while  helping  to  till  the  midland 
acres  he  was  diligent  in  studying  the  scenery  of  his  own  country 
district.  In  a  book  of  slight  sketches  by  Glover,  brought  from  the 
antipodes,  where  it  was  purchased  of  him  late  in  his  life,  Mr.  Jenkins 

O 


I94  THE    FOUNDING    OF    THE    SOCIETY  BK.  in 

found  one  of  trees  in   Indian  ink,  under  which  the  artist  had  written 

the  following  lines  :  — 

Oh,  Ingersby  .  .  . 

How  gladly  I  recall  your  well-known  seats, 
Beloved  of  old,  and  that  delightful  time 
When  all  alone  for  many  a  summer's  day 
I  wandered  through  your  calm  recesses,  led 
In  silence  by  some  powerful  hand  unseen. 

To  these  lines  he  had  added  the  following  words  of  explanation  : 
'  This  was  my  early  school.  These  were  the  scenes  near  my  native 
place,  which  helped  to  make  me  a  Landscape  Fainter.'  One  of  the 
three  drawings  of  his  first  year's  appearance,  in  1795,  at  Somerset 
House,  was  a  '  View  near  Ingersby,  Leicestershire.'  Again,  in  the 
first  exhibition,  in  1824,  of  the  Society  of  British  Artists,  of  which 
Glover  was  one  of  the  founders,  there  was  a  picture  of  his  entitled, 
'  A  favourite  haunt  of  my  youth  in  Leicestershire.'  Pyne  describes 
it  as  representing  an  enchanting  site,  with  greenwood  trees  and  a 
pellucid,  brawling  stream,  observing  that  the  artist  '  whose  original 
feeling  for  the  pursuits  of  painting  developed  itself  under  the 
influence  of  his  own  perceptions  alone,  first  studied  in  the  vicinity  of 
the  spot.' l  This  was  no  doubt  another  reminiscence  of  Ingersby 
Hollow,  a  spot  within  two  miles  of  Houghton. 

Glover's  professional  practice  began  during  his  residence  at 
Appleby.  He  found  employment  in  what  was  to  so  many  of  our 
water-colour  painters  their  first  pathway  to  profit,  the  delineation  of 
gentlemen's  seats  in  the  neighbourhood.  And  doubtless  he  also 
turned  to  good  account  the  opportunities  afforded  by  the  lovely 
scenery  of  Westmoreland. 

After  some  half-dozen  years  spent  in  this  united  devotion  to  the 
pen  and  pencil,  he  felt  sufficient  confidence  in  himself  to  set  up  as  an 
artist  and  teacher  of  art,  in  a  new  locality.  In  1794  he  removed  to 
the  cathedral  town  of  Lichfield,  where,  as  above  stated,  he  divided 
his  time  between  a  good  business  which  he  acquired  there,  as  a  draw- 
ing master,  and  his  own  practice  in  art ;  sketching  as  much  as  he 
could  in  the  neighbourhood,  and  indulging  at  the  same  time  his  taste 
for  music.  He  now  began  to  paint  in  oil ;  and  also  etched  some 
plates,2  and  we  first  find  his  name  in  the  Academy  Catalogue  the  year 
after  he  took  up  his  residence  in  the  Trent  valley. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  82. 

2  Redgrave  says  that  he  made  many  etchings.     The   British   Museum  has  only  one.  of 
two  cows,  in  soft  ground. 


CH.  VI        GLOVER,  HAVELL,  HOLWORTHY,  AND   RIGAUD  195 

He  married  at  an  early  age,  and  was  the  father  of  six  children, 
four  sons  and  two  daughters.  In  person,  Glover  was  tall  and  stout. 
But  he  had  club  feet.  In  spite  of  his  lameness,  however,  he  was  very 
active,  and,  enjoying  excellent  health,  could  walk  many  miles  a  day 
with  ease.  He  followed  his  art  with  untiring  diligence,  was  an 
early  riser,  and  only  took  as  much  rest  and  recreation  as  appeared 
needful  to  keep  him  in  health.  A  very  little  sufficed  for  that 
purpose.  If  report  spoke  truly,  when  he  was  about  to  open  an 
exhibition  of  his  works  (hereinafter  mentioned),  he  took  no  more 
than  two  hours'  sleep  in  the  twenty-four  for  a  month  together,  except 
on  Sundays.  A  pupil '  relates  that  when  they  were  painting  together 
at  a  like  time  Glover  would  take  off  his  spectacles,  and,  in  a  sitting 
posture,  fall  asleep  in  an  instant,  and  in  a  few  minutes  would  again  be  at 
work,  perfectly  refreshed,  to  pursue  till  a  late  hour  in  the  evening  the 
occupation  he  loved.  The  same  informant,  who  worked  and  sketched 
with  him  much  when  at  the  height  of  his  career,  relates  further  that, 
during  a  six  weeks'  tour  together  in  Wales,  the  master  was  always 
up  before  five  and  kept  on  at  work  every  day  till  dark.  The  pupil, 
on  his  own  confession,  was  less  industrious.  But  cliacun  a  son  gout. 
'  We  had  each  a  tent,'  says  he.  '  Mr.  Glover  gave  me  mine.  His  first 
picture  in  this  trip  was  a  view  of  Cader  Idris  from  the  hills  above 
Mr.  Owen's  of  Garthynghared.  He  painted  ;  I  was  only  looking  on, 
and  rambling  about  the  hills  with  Mr.  Owen's  daughters.'  Yet 
Glover  could  ramble  too,  if  sufficiently  tempted,  in  spite  of  his  love 
of  art,  and  his  club  feet.  '  I  remember,'  says  the  same  informant,  'on 
cne  of  these  days  '  (this  was  about  the  year  1820),  'that  Mr.  Glover 
left  his  tent  to  follow  a  young  skylark,  which  he  at  length  caught  ; 
and  he  tamed  it  so  completely  that  he  gave  it  its  liberty  every  day, 
and  it  came  to  him  for  food,  and  every  night  it  rested  in  a  little 
covered  basket. .  He  afterwards  tamed  a  white  water-wagtail,  a 
yellow  wagtail,  and  a  titmouse.  They  all  slept  in  the  same  basket. 
The  lark  was  alive  several  years  afterwards.  The  wagtails  came  to  an 
untimely  end.  The  titmouse  had  fits  after  eating  ;  and  he  gave  it  to 
a  Miss  Lloyd  of  Caernarvon.  He  would,  for  recreation  merely, 
'  follow  a  bird  and  find  its  nest.  I  once  saw  him  jump  up  from  his 
picture  to  take  a  wasps'  nest  in  the  middle  of  the  day.  Never  was 
there  a  boy  more  earnest  in  the  sport,  or  more  absorbed  by  it  till  it 
was  ended.' 

1   Mr.  Edward  Price,  writing  to  Mr.  Jenkins  from  Nottingham  in  1856. 


o  2 


,96  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  BK.  in 

Though  'at  all  other  times  very  diligent  with  his  pencil,  Mr. 
Glover  was  playful  in  his  moments  of  recreation.'  In  illustration  of 
this,  his  pupil  gives  the  following  account  of  '  a  little  bit  of  merry 
mischief  he  attempted  in  Dovedale,  when  he  made  two  fine  pictures 
there  ' :  '  I  have  heard  my  father,  who  was  the  incumbent  of  Christ 
Church,  Needwood,  say  that  he  remembered  the  river  Dove  when  it 
was  far  more  beautiful  than  it  is  now,1  or  than  it  was  when  Mr.  G. 
was  there.  It  was  in  its  natural  state,  when  the  bright  stream  met 
with  the  frequent  interruption  of  fragments  of  rock,  and  other' 
obstacles  '  of  a  most  picturesque  character.  When  Mr.  Glover  was 
painting  there,  but  few  of  these  things  remained.  For  the  present 
proprietor  had  caused  artificial  weirs  to  be  made  in  several  places 
across  the  river,  to  deepen  the  water  for  his  trout  and  grayling.  Mr. 
Glover  did  not  like  this.  We  took  up  our  quarters  at  a  little  inn 
called  the  Dog  and  Partridge,  about  a  mile  from  the  entrance  of  the 
dale,  and  early  in  the  morning,  when  we  [went]  with  our  tents,  and  late 
in  the  evening  when  we  returned  to  our  inn,  we  stopped  to  do  all  the 
mischief  we  could  to  these  weirs.  Mr.  Glover  sometimes  contrived 
to  throw  a  lump  of  rock  cleverly  upon  the  verge  of  the  fall,  which 
caused  a  little  diversion  of  the  water ;  but  he  intended  to  dislodge  a 
stone  of  the  weir,  and  leave  the  water  to  finish  his  work  ;  and  he 
would,  with  a  stick,  wriggle  about  among  the  heavy  stones  till  he 
actually  saw  runlets  of  the  river  beginning  to  do  his  bidding.  But 
he  had  no  mercy  upon  me ;  for  he  sent  me  into  the  water  to  assist  in 
the  work  of  destruction.  A  quarter  of  a  century  has  passed,'  adds 
the  writer,  '  and  the  weirs  appear  just  the  same  now  as  when  we  were 
trying  to  alter  them.' 

Of  Glover's  agility  and  daring,  his  companion  relates  the  following 
example,  the  scene  being  in  the  same  locality  ; — '  There  is  a  cavern  in 
Dovedale,  high  up  the  hill  on  the  right  hand,  and  halfway  up  the 
dale,  called  ReynarcCs  Cave.  This  cavern  is  in  a  perpendicular  face 
of  the  rock.  Directly  in  front  of  this  is  a  high  natural  detached  arch, 
through  which  you  see  the  cave.  Scramble  up  to  it,  for  the  base  of 
the  hill  from  which  it  rises  is  at  an  angle  of  about  sixty  degrees  with 
the  river.  Pass  through  the  arch,  and  still  climb  on  many  yards  till 
you  reach  Reynard's  Cave.  Now,  look  down,  through  the  arch,  upon 
the  river  ;  and  look  up  to  the  ridge  over  the  arch,  and  there  you  will 
see  the  spot  on  which  I  saw  Mr.  Glover.  If  you  try  to  go  there,  you 

1  1856. 


CH.  VI          GLOVER,  HAVELL,  HOLWORTHY,  AND    RIGAUD  197 

will  probably  break  your  neck  in  the  attempt.  The  way  to  it  is  up 
the  hill,  to  the  left,  from  the  cave,  till  you  are  as  high  as  the  ridge  over 
the  arch.  This  is  just  the  spot  on  which  I  stood,  when  Mr.  Glover 
asked  me  to  come  to  him.  Moreover,  he  balanced  himself  and 
danced  upon  the  ridge,  and  vaulted  from  thence  across  to  the 
opposite  rock  (namely,  the  rock  over  Reynard's  Cave).  I  could  not 
go  along  it.'  Yet  there  was  '  this  mountain  of  a  man  '  with  club  feet 
more  foolishly  daring  than  I  was,  or  any  school  lad  I  ever  saw.  I 
have  seen  many  daring  fellows  try  to  get  to  this  place,  without  being 
able  to  do  it.'  If  this  was  a  true  picture  of  John  Glover  at  the  time 
to  which  it  refers,  it  cannot  be  a  too  highly  coloured  one  to  represent 
him  as  he  was  some  twenty  years  younger,  when  our  Society  was 
founded. 

Though  he  played  thus  when  he  played,  he  worked  also  when  he 
worked.  He  would  be  in  the  meadows  of  a  summer  morning,  and 
his  sketch-book  was  always  with  him  at  hand,  as  he  went  to  attend 
his  pupils.  And  in  the  winter,  when  the  ground  has  been  covered 
with  snow,  he  made  studies  of  cattle  in  the  fold-yard.  Nothing 
escaped  his  observation,  and  he  never  lost  an  opportunity  of  noting 
down  anything  that  was  worth  remembering.  '  I  was  with  him,' 
writes  the  companion  above  quoted, '  at  Penmaenmawr  in  North  Wales, 
in  a  thunderstorm,  when  he  stopped  to  sketch  some  donkeys  with 
their  backs  raised  like  a  pent-house,  the  water  streaming  off  them  ; 
and,  when  he  was  on  his  way  to  Dovedale,  he  alighted  at  the  Green 
Man  at  Ashbourne  from  the  "  Derby  Dilly  " 2  and  made  an  admirable 
drawing  of  a  goat,  which  he  afterwards  exhibited.  Thus  he  was 
always  ready  for  his  work,  and  thus  he  obtained  a  freedom  of 
hand  and  a  general  knowledge  of  form  and  effect,  which  enabled 
him  to  produce  pictures  of  any  subject  and  size  with  rapidity  and 
ease.' 

In  1795,  1799,  1801,  1803,  and  1804,  Glover  had  altogether  had 
about  sixteen  works  in  the  Academy  exhibitions,  from  one  to  six  a 
year.  Only  one  was  hung  in  the  great  room,  namely  a  '  Sunset '  in 
1799-  This  was  doubtless  his  d^but  as  a  painter  in  oils.  In  1804  he 
had  a  view  of  the  Trossachs,  before  which  time  his  subjects  had  chiefly 
been  taken  from  Derbyshire  and  Wales. 

1  He  weighed  eighteen  stone. 

2  '  Dilly '    is  short  for  diligence  \    and  the  above  name  was  given  to  a  coach  running 
between  Derby  and  Ashbourne.      It  is  referred  to  by  Canning  in  the  Anti-Jacobin.      See 
also  Alhcnceuin,  16  Oct.  1886,  p.  497,  on  Pendleton's  History  of  Derbyshire, 


198  THE   FOUNDING   OF   THE   SOCIETY  UK.  in 

The  WILLIAM  HAVELL  who  was  found  sketching  at  Dolgclly  by 
the  Varleys  in  1802,  and  at  Ross  by  Cornelius  Varley  and  Cristall  in 
1803,  and  who  made  a  cock-shy  of  his  palette  in  the  market-place, 
was  a  young  man  just  entering  the  profession,  when  he  joined  these 
friends  as  another  member  of  the  new  Society.  Probably  he  was  the 
youngest  of  the  brotherhood,  his  birthday  being  the  gth  of  February, 
1782.  His  father,  though  a  teacher  of  drawing,  who  lived  and  prac- 
tised at  Reading,  was  not  over-anxious  that  his  sons  should  follow  the 
same  calling.  For  he  had  not  found  it  lucrative  enough  to  depend  on 
for  the  maintenance  of  himself  and  his  wife  and  a  family  of  fourteen 
children.  By  way  of  supplement  he  had  had  to  open  a  small  shop 
which  brought  him  a  steadier  income.  Several  of  the  family,  how- 
ever, took  to  art  in  one  form  or  another,1  among  whom  William,  the 
third  son  out  of  eight,  was  by  far  the  most  distinguished.  He  had 
been  told  off  to  the  shop,  but  showed  his  desire  to  be  an  artist  by 
seizing  every  opportunity  of  improving  his  power  over  the  pencil. 
He  was  obliged  to  foster  this  taste  in  private  ;  but  one  day  his  father 
surprised  him  while  he  was  finishing  a  sketch,  and  he  surprised  his 
father  by  the  evidence  it  afforded  of  a  secretly  nurtured  talent.  He 
was  then  permitted  to  follow  his  bent,  and  turned  out  to  gather  a 
wholesome  art-pasture  on  the  Welsh  mountain  side.  But  he  had 
first  been  provided  with  a  good  classical  education  under  Dr.  Valpy 
at  the  Reading  grammar  school,  where  his  father  held  the  post  of 
drawing  master.  In  1804  he  showed  the  results  of  his  study,  in  the 
three  first  drawings  which  he  exhibited  at  Somerset  House,  two  of 
Caernarvon  Castle,  and  the  third  of  Nant  Francon.  It  may  be 
assumed  that  they  were  of  such  merit  as  to  justify  his  admission  to 
the  body  which  he  now  joined,  at  the  age  of  twenty-three. 

The  new  method  of  Turner,  Girtin,  and  Varley,  wherein  local  tints 
were  laid  in  at  once,  and  the  design  advanced  with  the  corresponding 
shadows,  was  practised  by  Havell  also.  He  painted  in  oil  as  well  as 
water-colour,  and  was  destined  to  hold  a  high  place  in  the  British 
school  of  landscape.  His  address  in  the  Academy  Catalogue  of  1804 
is  '  6  Clipstone  Street,  Fitzroy  Square,'  and  in  the  next  year  he  is  at 
'61  Poland  Street.' 

Two  more  foundation  members,  of  less  distinction,  have  yet  to  be 
mentioned. 

1  There  are  eleven  of  the  name  Havell  mentioned  in  Graves's  Dictionary  of  Artists. 


CH.  VI          GLOVER,  HAVELL,  HOLWORTHY,  AND    RIGAUD  199 

JAMES  HOLWORTHY  was  born  on  the  loth  of  April,  1781.  He  is 
said  to  have  been  an  intimate  friend  of  J.  M.  W.  Turner's ; '  and  he 
appears  to  have  been  a  pupil  of  Glover's.2  He  exhibited  three  Welsh 
views  at  the  Royal  Academy  in  1803  and  1804;  but  otherwise  little 
is  known  of  him  before  the  time  of  his  joining  the  Society.  His 
address  in  the  first  catalogue  is  '  4  Mount  Street,  Grosvenor  Square.' 

STEPHEN  FRANCIS  RIGAUD,  a  figure-painter,  was,  according  to 
Redgrave,5 '  a  student  of  the  Royal  Academy,  and  first  appears  as  an 
exhibitor  in  1797,  and  for  many  years  was  an  occasional  contributor 
both  of  portraits  and  of  subject  pictures,  sacred  and  classic.  In  1801 
he  gained  the  Academy  gold  medal  for  his  historical  painting, 
'  Clytemnestra  exulting  over  Agamemnon.'  His  address  was  '71 
Great  Titchfield  Street.' 

1  Bemrose's  Life  and  Works  of  Wright  of  Derby  (1885),  p.  4. 

*  'Letter  to  /***  A*****,  Esq.,  A  connoisseur  in  London,  by  William  Carey,  p.  15.' 
Privately  printed,  Manchester,  1809. 
'  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 


BOOK    IV 

THE    WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1805-1812 


CHAPTER    I 
IN    BROOK   STREET,    1805,    1806 

The  Brook  Street  Rooms — Their  antecedent  uses — First  Exhibition  of  the  Society  (1805) — 
Sale-clerk,  a  novelty — Classes  of  subjects— Profits  divided — First  Associates —Their 
previous  biographies — Miss  Byrne— J.  J.  Chaton — Robert  Freebairn — William  Dela- 
motte — P.  S.  Munn — R.  R,  Reinagk— John  Smith — Francis  Stevens— John  Thurston — 
Glover  and  Gilpin — Wells  elected  President — Second  Exhibition  (1806) — Its  contents — 
Profits  divided— Shelley  and  his  portraits — Smith  a  Member — New  Associates — Their 
previous  biographies — Thomas  Heaphy — Natural  v.  Academic  teaching — Augustus  Pugin 
— Birth  and  descent — Escape  from  France — Mathews  the  actor — With  John  Nash — 
Architectural  drawings. 

THUS  there  were  assembled  sixteen  practitioners  in  water-colours  to 
join  their  forces  in  an  Exhibition,  which  should  show  the  public  of 
what  their  art  was  capable,  when  standing  on  its  own  foundation. 
The  next  thing  was  to  determine  the  locus  in  quo.  A  set  of  two 
rooms  were  found,  apparently  well  suited  to  the  purpose ;  being  in  a 
central  situation,  and  already  familiar  to  amateurs  and  collectors. 
They  were  at  No.  20  Lower  Brook  Street,  not  far  from  the  spot  where 
the  scheme  had  been  hatched  in  George  Street,  Hanover  Square. 
They  had  been  built  for  show  or  sale  rooms,  by  Gerard  Vandergucht, 
one  of  a  well-known  Flemish  family  of  artists,  who  flourished  for  more 
than  a  hundred  years  in  England  as  engravers,  painters,  and  dealers 
in  objects  of  art.  Gerard  died  on  the  i8th  of  March,  1776,  aged  eighty. 
His  stock-in-trade,  comprising  a  large  collection  of  engravings,  was 
sold  in  the  following  year  ;  and  Benjamin  Vandergucht,  his  thirty- 
second  child,1  relinquishing  portraiture  for  picture  dealing,  succeeded 

1  They  were  a  prolific  race  these  Vanderguchts  ;  the  thirty-two  were  born  of  one  mother, 
who  survived  her  husband. 


202  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

to  the  business,1  admitting  the  public  to  see  his  collection  of  pictures  * 
on  payment  of  one  shilling.  Benjamin  was  drowned  in  the  Thames 
in  1794,  not  far  from  Hogarth's  grave  in  Chiswick  churchyard  ;  and 
this  collection  came  in  its  turn  under  Christie's  hammer  in  1796. 
After  that,  Thomas  Barker,  known  as  '  Barker  of  Bath  '  and  celebrated 
for  his  picture  of  '  The  Woodman,"  had  an  exhibition  of  his  works  in 
the  Brook  Street  Gallery.  From  him  the  rooms  passed  into  the 
hands  of  the  painter,  Henry  Tresham,  who,  on  returning  from  Rome, 
opened  the  gallery  in  association  with  '  several  other  gentlemen  pic- 
ture dealers,'  for  the  sale  of  '  Raphaels,  Correggios,  and  stuff,'  as  some 
of  them  proved.  Becoming  a  Royal  Academician,  however,  in  1799, 
and  engaged  in  literary  and  other  work,  he  had  no  further  occasion 
for  the  great  room,  and  let  it,  with  its  appurtenances,  to  the  Water- 
Colour  Society.3  In  the  days  of  the  Vanderguchts,  this  house  in  Lower 
Brook  Street  was  distinguished  by  the  sign  of  the  Golden  Head* 

When  the  numbering  of  the  houses  was  altered  at  a  later  period 
of  the  nineteenth  century,  No.  20  Brook  Street  (or  Lower  Brook  Street, 
as  it  was  sometimes  called)  became  No.  54.  An  inspection  of  this 
and  the  adjoining  number  on  each  side  (viz.  56  and  S4A)  seems  to 
show  that  the  old  rooms,  now  divided,  originally  extended  along  the 
backs  of  these  houses.  Behind  No.  56  there  is  a  ware-room  with 
a  raised  skylight,  which  has  evidently  been  built  for  an  exhibition 
gallery. 

Here,  on  Monday,  the  22nd  of  April,  1805,  the  Exhibition  was  at 
last  opened  to  the  public,  with  the  announcement  quoted  in  the  Intro- 
duction to  this  history.  The  plan,  now  adopted  in  similar  exhibitions, 
of  placing  an  attendant  in  the  room  with  a  price-book  of  pictures  for 
sale,  and  a  register  of  purchasers'  names,  was  introduced  as  a  new 
experiment.  The  novelty,  if  any,  seems  to  have  consisted  in  the 
power  given  to  the  clerk  to  enter  into  an  agreement  for  sale,  and 
receive  a  deposit  of  ten  per  cent,  to  secure  the  purchase.  In  the 
exhibitions  at  Somerset  House,  it  does  not  appear  to  have  been  the 
practice  at  this  period  even  to  give  information  as  to  the  prices  of 

1  Cf.  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \.  1 30,  Stanley's  edition  of  Bryan's  Dictionary  of  Painters  and 
Engravers,  and  Redgrave's  Dictionary  of  Artists  of  the  English.  School.     Redgrave  says, 
that  Benjamin  was  a  son  of  Gerard's  brother  John,   an  engraver  who  helped   Hogarth,  and 
died  in  the  same  year  as  he  did,  aged  seventy-nine. 

2  Sir  William  Beechey  exhibited  some  of  his  works  here.      See  Sandby's  History  of  Ike 
Royal  Academy,  i.  311. 

3  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ttbi  supra. 

4  See  Royal  Academy  Catalogue,  1771  ;  address  of  Benjamin  Vandergucht. 


CH  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,  1805,  1806  203 

pictures  for  sale,  though,  in  the  early  catalogues,  such  works  were 
distinguished  by  an  asterisk.  '  But  there  had  been  greater  facilities 
at  the  Incorporated  Society  of  Artists.  In  the  catalogue  of  the 
exhibition  of  1770,  at  Spring  Gardens,  is,  for  the  first  time,  the 
following  announcement :  '  The  Public  are  desired  to  take  notice 
that  the  numbers  and  prices  of  such  performances  as  are  to  be  disposed 
of,  are  left  with  the  assistant  secretary,  who  attends  in  the  room.'  The 
Free  Society  employed  a  similar  attendant,  sometimes  a  woman. 

'  The  experiment  thus  fairly  started  succeeded  beyond  the  most 
sanguine  expectations  of  its  projectors.  The  exhibition  was  daily 
crowded  with  visitors.  Connoisseurs,  dilettanti,  artists,  and  critics,  vied 
with  each  other  in  loud  commendations  of  the  collected  works.  The 
noble  in  rank  and  the  leaders  of  fashion  graced  it  with  their  presence. 
An  eager  curiosity  seized  upon  those  who  claimed  to  live  in  the 
exclusive  region  of  taste.' l  Pyne  tells  us  that  among  those  who 
offered  the  warmest  congratulations  on  the  success  of  the  undertaking 
were  many  of  the  leading  Academicians.  In  the  seven  weeks  during 
which  the  exhibition  remained  open,  nearly  12,000  persons  paid  for 
admission.  Not  only  were  the  rooms  thus  crowded,  but,  what  was 
yet  more  gratifying,  the  visitors  '  appeared  emulous  to  become 
purchasers  of  the  works  exhibited.  Hitherto,  very  few  instances 
could  be  named  of  the  pictures  of  living  artists  being  disposed  of  at 
a  public  exhibition  ;  whilst  here,  the  room  at  once  became  an  excellent 
mart  for  sale.' 2 

All  the  sixteen  members  were  represented  by  works  in  the 
gallery,  but  their  contributions  to  the  joint  show  varied  considerably 
in  quantity.  John  Varley  sent  no  less  than  42  works,  Pyne  and 
Shelley  28  each,  Glover  and  Hills  23  each,  Wells  21,  Gilpin  20,  Pocock 
17,  Nicholson  14,  Havell  and  Cornelius  Varley  12  each,  Barret  n, 
Cristall  8,  Rigaud  6,  and  Holworthy  and  Nattes  5  each.  As  was 
to  be  expected,  the  main  strength  of  the  collection  lay  in  its  land- 
scapes. But  the  figure  element  was  present  also,  and  it  gave  a 
variety  to  this  first  gathering,  the  absence  of  which  was  complained 
of  a  few  years  after,  when  landscape  seems  to  have  acquired  an  all 
but  absolute  dominion.3  It  is  true  that  the  works  of  Shelley,  Rigaud, 
and  even  Cristall,  whatever  may  have  been  their  actual  merits,  did  not 

1  J.  J.  J.  MS.  !  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  131. 

'  See  Repository  of  Arts,  iii.  423,  on  Exhibition  of  1810 ;  and  Somerset  House  Gazette, 
ii.  127  on  that  of  1824. 


204  THE  WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

entirely  represent  the  figure  school  which  then  existed  among  water- 
colour  draftsmen.  Of  its  most  characteristic  branch  we  find  nothing 
as  yet  on  the  Society's  walls.  It  was  only  in  later  years,  and  in  a 
younger  generation,  that  the  illustrative  school  of  Blake,  Stothard, 
Westall,  and  others  made  its  appearance  in  the  water-colour  exhi- 
bitions. Artists  of  their  class  had  found  full  employment  in  making 
designs  for  the  embellishment  of  books,  and  thus  had  not  suffered 
in  the  same  way  as  the  landscape  painters  from  competition  with  oil 
pictures.  Nor  was  there  at  first  much  more  than  a  suggestion  of  that 
species  of  figure  painting  which  concerns  itself  with  present  life  and 
the  aspect  of  the  world  we  live  in,  such  as  existed  in  the  works  of 
Gainsborough,  and  had  been  continued  by  Morland,  Ibbetson,  and 
others,  and  (largely  mixed  with  caricature)  in  those  of  a  real  genius 
in  his  way,  Thomas  Rowlandson.  This  would  have  formed  the  true 
counterpart  of  the  class  of  natural  landscape  which  was  now  being 
brought  into  such  marked  significance.  It  was  only  present  here  in  a 
few  rustic  figures  of  fishermen  and  others,  and  five  studies  for  a  work 
in  hand  on  the  costume  of  England,  by  Pyne,  and  a  gipsy  group  by 
Wells.  Including  these,  and  eight  portraits  by  Shelley,  the  figure  sub- 
jects formed  less  than  20  per  cent,  of  the  whole  collection.  About  half 
a  dozen  were  pure  allegory ; l  conspicuous  among  them  a  tribute  by 
Shelley  to  the  memory  of  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  to  whom  his  own  art 
was  so  much  indebted.  Herein  '  Painting  overcome  with  Grief  is  con- 
soled by  Sculpture,  who  presents  her  with  a  medallion  of  Sir  Joshua, 
for  the  Genii  of  Taste  to  convey  to  the  Temple  of  Fame,'  &c.  &c. 
Reynolds  had  then  been  dead  thirteen  years.  The  remainder  were 
subjects  from  the  poets,  sacred  history,  heathen  mythology,  and  the 
classic  fancy  of  the  artist.  Motives  derived  from  English  history  or 
fiction  were  absent  altogether.  The  art  exhibited  in  these  imaginative 
works  was  not  of  a  progressive  kind.  Their  ideal  of  beauty,  never 
very  robust,  has  since  gone  out  of  fashion.  Nor  was  it  destined  long 
to  survive.  It  had  to  die  and  be  forgotten  ere  a  fresh  aesthetic  impulse, 
reflecting  archaic  models  of  quite  another  stamp,  came  to  create  the 
poetic  figure-school  followed  by  certain  of  our  painters  in  water-colours 
in  recent  times. 

In  matters  of  technique,  however,  the  works  of  Shelley  and  Rigaud 
afford,  in  the  painting  of  the  figure,  examples  of  a  method  bearing 

1  One  of  Shelley's,  '  Memory  gathering  the  flowers  cropped  by  Time,'  is  now  in  the  South 
Kensington  Museum. 


CH.  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,   1805,  1806  205 

the  same  relation  to  the  process  in  common  use  before  their  time,  as 
that  of  the  landscape  draftsmen  in  local  colour  bore  to  the  old-fashioned 
tinting  of  topographic  views.  Examples  of  the  strong-outline  and 
grey-and-wash  process  applied  to  the  figure  must  be  sought  for  in  the 
drawings  of  Sandby,  De  Loutlierbourg,  Dayes,  Mortimer,  Wheatley, 
Rowlandson,  Alexander,  and  many  others.  Of  the  more  complete 
practice,  the  leading  representative  appears  to  have  been  Richard 
Westall,  R.A.,  whose  name  is  specially  associated  with  a  reform  of 
figure-painting  in  water-colours  corresponding  to  that  which  Turner 
and  Girtin  have  the  credit  of  effecting  in  landscape.1  William 
Hamilton,  R.A.  (b.  1751,  d.  1801),  and  Shelley  were  of  the  same 
class  as  Westall. 

But  the  great  majority  of  the  drawings  in  this  first  exhibition 
were,  as  has  been  above  said,  landscapes,  of  one  kind  or  another. 
And  it  was  in  this  department  that  the  change  was  chiefly  manifest 
which  had  come  over  water-colour  drawing.  Here  there  was  visible 
just  enough,  both  of  the  old  motives  and  of  the  old  processes  in 
painting,  to  indicate  the  states  of  art  and  practice  out  of  which  the 
present  developments  had  sprung.  The  early  tinted  manner  survived 
in  the  works  of  Pocock,  old  architectural  topography  in  those  of 
Nattes ;  and  in  one  or  two  examples  by  Gilpin  there  was  just  a 
reminder  of  the  old  craze  for  '  gentlemen's  seats.'  The  '  classic '  or 
ideal  element  derived  from  Claude  and  Poussin,  which  had  been 
paramount  in  our  landscape  art  until  the  time  of  Gainsborough,  was 
also  present,  and  probably  reigned  over  a  group  of  '  compositions,'  so 
named,  among  the  drawings  sent  by  Glover,  Havell,  and  Varley,  and, 
in  nearly  all  cases,  over  the  works  of  Barret.  Under  the  generic 
names  '  landscape,' '  view  from  nature,' '  a  lake  scene,'  &c.,  may  also  have 
been  included  representations  more  or  less  characteristic  of  particular 
kinds  of  scenery,  without  the  aim  of  giving  importance  to  an  actual 
locality.  But  by  far  the  larger  number  of  the  landscapes  belonged 
to  the  class  which  might  still  be  called  topographic,  though  in  that 
wider  acceptation  of  the  term  which  does  not  exclude  from  its  scope 
mere  natural  scenery,  provided  that  the  features  peculiar  to  a  given  spot 
are  duly  recorded.  It  was  the  form  of  landscape  in  which  the  classic 
school  on  the  one  hand,  and  the  '  dry-as-dust '  topography  of  the  olden 
time  on  the  other,  had  finally  met  and  merged.  Except  eight  views  in 

1  See  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  46,  and  Century  of  Painters,  i.  408. 


206  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  UK.  IV 

Norway  by  Wells,1  and  a  few  others  of  small  importance,  the  whole  of 
the  remaining  landscapes  were  scenes  in  the  British  Isles,  forty-three 
per  cent,  being  from  Wales.  Of  these  Welsh  views  more  than  two-fifths 
are  by  John  Varley,  besides  from  three  to  seven  drawings  each  by 
Cristall,  Havcll,  Nicholson,  Pocock,  and  Cornelius  Varley,  all  belonging 
to  the  Celtic  contingent.  The  North  of  England,  chiefly  Yorkshire 
with  her  abbeys,  supplied  the  subjects  of  twenty-four  drawings  by 
various  artists  ;  and  ten,  mostly  by  Nicholson,  were  from  Scotland. 
Gilpin  brought  six  Irish  views-from  the  Lakes  of  Killarney. 

There  were  two  further  ingredients  which  varied  the  interest  of 
the  exhibition  as  a  whole,  namely  :  Hills's  studies  of  cattle,  sheep,  and 
deer  ;  and  a  series  of  spirited  drawings  by  Pocock,  of  British  sea- 
fights,  some  of  the  great  engagements  that  had  taken  place  within  the 
memory  of  all  visitors  to  the  gallery.  Such  pictures  were  not  then, 
as  they  are  now,  mere  reflections  of  the  historic  past,  but  contained 
matter  of  stirring  present  interest.  Nelson  himself  was  alive,  though 
to  die  in  the  coming  October. 

These  two  hundred  and  seventy-five  drawings  have  long  been 
dispersed,  beyond  all  power  to  trace  more  than  a  very  few.  Some, 
perhaps,  have  perished,  and  of  what  remain  many  are  sadly  faded,  we 
may  be  sure.  Beyond  a  meagre  tradition,  little  is  left  to  give  us  an 
estimate  of  what  this  first  exhibition  was  like,  or  the  actual  quality 
of  its  contents,  except  bare  names  as  they  stand  in  the  catalogue,  and 
some  knowledge  of  what 'their  owners  did  in  after  years.  But  even 
from  the  titles  of  their  works  we  can  tell  something  of  the  painter's 
intentions.  It  is  noteworthy  how  some  of  them  are  in  the  habit  of 
specifying  among  the  chief  motives  of  their  pictures,  the  kind  of 
weather,  the  time  of  day,  and  the  various  '  effects '  under  which  the 
scene  they  depict  is  represented.  Among  Barret's  works,  for  example, 
we  have  '  An  Evening  Effect,'  '  A  Twilight  Effect,'  '  A  Mountain 
Scene  after  Rain.'  Of  Glover's,  such  notes  enter  into  more  than  half 
the  descriptions.  '  Morning,' '  Stormy  Sunset,'  'Evening,'  'Mid-day,' 

1  Mr.  Jenkins  saw  one  of  these  drawings  of  Wells's,  the  '  Fortress  of  Frederickshall  on  the 
frontier  of  Norway,  where  Charles  XII.  lost  his  life,'  long  afterwards  at  the  house  of  its 
possessor  Mr.  Henry  Elliot,  a  lifelong  friend  of  Wells's,  to  whom  it  was  presented  by  the 
artist's  family  after  his  death.  Mr.  Elliot  stated  that  he  had  known  the  drawing  for  more 
than  thirty  years,  but  could  observe  no  change  in  its  appearance.  Mr.  Jenkins  describes 
it  as  '  representing  a  mountainous  country,  fir  woods  and  water,  under  the  effect  of  evening, 
when  the  sun  touches  with  a  mellow  light  the  distant  hill -tops,  and  pencils  with  deeper  gold 
the  glowing  stems  of  the  pine  forests  ;  — a  work  that  favourably  displays  the  artist's  power 
over  colour  and  effect. '  (J.  J.  J.  MSS. ) 


CH.  I  IN    BROOK    STREET,   1805,  1806  207 

1 A  Partial  Shower,'  '  Thunderstorm  at  Sunset,'  '  Moonlight,' '  Snow,' 
'  Singular  Effect  of  a  Thunderstorm,'  '  Sunshine  and  Distant  Rain,' 
'  Still,  warm  Evening.'  All  these  memoranda  occur  in  titles  of  his 
drawings  in  this  first  exhibition.  And  Pocock,  like  a  true  sailor,  duly 
notes  the  distinctions  of '  breeze '  and  '  gale  '  and  '  storm,'  and  whether 
they  be '  fresh  '  or '  strong.'  That  Nicholson  made  his  mark,  we  learn 
on  the  evidence  of  Pyne,  who  tells  us  that  'the  discovery  of '  that 
painter's  '  process  for  preserving  the  heightenings  pure  and  clean  in 
touch  threw  a  light  upon  this  department  of  study.  From  the  time 
his  drawings  appeared  upon  the  walls  of  the  first  exhibition  of  the 
Society,  many  of  its  members,  professors  of  landscape,  wrought  their 
elegant  designs  with  a  greater  degree  of  force  and  effect.'  The  powers 
and  capacities  in  the  materials  which  they  exhibit  had,  he  contends, 
been  developed  by  Nicholson  alone.1 

What  was  the  contemporary  verdict,  as  to  the  comparative  merits  of 
the  sixteen  painters  now  brought  together,  it  would  be  difficult  to 
discover  ;  for  there  were  not  then  the  host  of  art  journals  and  a 
critics  that  we  have  now,  to  gauge  or  guide  the  public  taste.  But  a 
tecord  has  been  preserved,  in  the  Society's  minutes,  of  the  estimates 
made  by  the  artists  themselves  of  the  value  of  their  own  work.  In 
accordance  with  the  rule,  wise  or  otherwise,  which  had  been  prescribed 
for  the  distribution  of  any  available  residue  of  profits,  each  member 
had  to  make  a  valuation  of  his  accepted  works.  The  aggregate 
amount  of  these  valuations  was  2,86o/.,  whereof  Shelley  set  himself 
down  as  contributing  a  share  of  attraction  worth  743/.  8s. ;  Glover's 
estimate  was  So//.  3^.  ;  and  others  named  smaller  sums,  down  to  a 
modest  44/.  12s.  6d.  by  Cornelius  Varley.  These  various  sums,  on 
being  compared  with  the  numbers  of  drawings  sent  in  by  the  different 
members,  give  for  each  the  average  price  per  exhibit,  and  the  conse- 
quent order  of  self-estimation,  appearing  in  the  following  list. 


I. 

Shelley  . 

.£26 

10 

6 

9- 

Wells     . 

.    £7 

o 

O 

2. 

Glover   . 

.       22 

I 

0 

10. 

Cristall  . 

.       6 

13 

o 

3- 

Pocock  . 

•       13 

o 

o 

it. 

Havell    . 

•      S 

H 

o 

4- 

Nattes    . 

.       12 

2 

6 

12. 

Nicholson 

•      S 

12 

o 

5- 

Hills      . 

.       10 

18 

o 

13- 

J.  Varley 

4 

14 

o 

6. 

Rigaud  . 

.       10 

2 

6 

H. 

Barret    . 

•       4 

9 

6 

7- 

Gilpin     . 

•       9 

18 

o 

IS- 

Pyne 

•       4 

8 

o 

8. 

Holworthy 

•      9 

o 

o 

1  6. 

C.  Varley. 

•       3 

14 

o 

Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  30,  31. 


2o8  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

On  this  showing,  the  average  price  of  a  drawing  was  about 
IO/.  us.  It  need  scarcely  be  said  that  the  foregoing  table  of  pre- 
cedence does  not  in  all  cases  agree  with  the  verdict  of  posterity  as 
to  the  merits  of  the  artists  named  therein. 

The  exhibition  closed  on  the  8th  of  June,  and  the  founders  met 
to  ascertain  their  position.  They  had  never  ventured  to  hope  that,  in 
its  early  stages,  their  enterprise  would  do  more  than  pay  its  expenses. 
They  must  therefore  have  been  agreeably  surprised  to  find  that  the 
public  admissions  had  been  so  numerous  as  to  bring  to  the  door  a  sum 
of  more  than  577/.,  and  leave  in  the  treasurer's  hands,  after  all  expenses 
paid,  a  surplus  of  nearly  2721.  This  sum,  in  accordance  with  the  above- 
mentioned  rule,  was  duly  divided  among  the  members,  in  shares 
varying  from  5/.  "js.  6d.  to  6i/.  iSs.  6d.  proportioned  to  the  declared 
values  of  their  contributions  to  the  gallery. 

Encouraged  by  this  success,  the  founders  began  to  prepare  on  a 
larger  scale  for  a  second  exhibition  in  the  ensuing  year.  At  the 
first  anniversary  meeting,  on  the  soth  of  November,  it  was  resolved 
that  the  number  of  contributors  should  be  augmented  by  the  forma- 
tion of  a  new  class,  called  '  FELLOW-EXHIBITORS.'  They  were  not 
to  exceed  sixteen,  and  from  them  future  Members  were  to  be  chosen. 
Their  privilege  to  exhibit  did  not  extend  to  more,  it  seems,  than  five 
drawings  at  a  time.  It  was  further  agreed  that  two  Members  should 
thus  be  added  every  year  until  their  number  should  reach  twenty- 
four,  beyond  which  limit  there  was  to  be  no  further  extension. 
Gilpin,  Shelley,  and  Hills  were  reappointed  to  their  respective  offices 
of  President,  Treasurer,  and  Secretary  ;  and  with  Pocock,  Glover, 
and  John  Varley,  constituted  the  new  Committee. 

On  the  3Oth  of  December,1  1805,  the  following  nine  artists  were 
selected,  out  of  sixteen  candidates  proposed  by  the  different  members, 
for  Associate-Exhibitors,2  namely  :  Anne  Frances  Byrne,  John  James 
Chalon,  William  Delamotte,  Robert  Freebairn,  Paul  Sandby  Munn, 
Richard  Ramsay  Reinagle,  John  Smith,  Francis  Stevens,  and  from 
John  Thurston. 

ANNE  FRANCES  BYRNE  was  one  of  a  family  of  artistic  children 

1  By  reason   of  elections  having  taken  place  at  the  end  of  the  year  previous  to  that  in 
which  an  exhibitor's  name  can  first  appear  in  the  catalogue,  slight  errors  of  dates  have  some- 
times been  made  in  biographies  hitherto  published. 

2  The  name  '  Fellow- Exhibitor'  is  used  in  the  first  two  years'  catalogues,  and  'Associate- 
Exhibitor  '  afterwards. 


en.  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,   1805,   1806  209 

left  by  the  William  Byrne  who  engraved  Hearne's  'Antiquities  of 
Great  Britain.'  Scarcely  three  months  before  his  daughter's  election 
he  had  died  in  Titchfield  Street,  at  the  age  of  about  sixty-two,  while 
engaged  in  producing  the  first  part  of  a  series  of  prints,  which  were 
continued  for  a  number  of  years,  under  the  title  Britannia  Depicta. 
It  contained  views  by  Hearne,  Turner,  Farington,  John  Smith,  and 
Alexander,  but  latterly  by  Farington  alone.  Other  eminent  line 
engravers,  including  Middiman,  Landseer,  and  Pye,  were  afterwards 
employed  on  the  work,  together  with  three  of  William  Byrne's 
children,  John,  Elizabeth,  and  Letitia  Byrne.  It  will  be  necessary  to 
speak  further  of  John  Byrne,  the  youngest,  and  the  only  boy  of  the 
family,  as  a  water-colour  painter. 

Anne  Frances  was  the  eldest  child,  and  born  in  London  in  1775 
(the  birth  year  of  Turner  and  Girtin).  She  seems  to  have  taken  to 
art  con  amore,  giving  up  for  its  practice  a  course  of  more  lucrative 
teaching  in  which  she  had  been  engaged,  and  devoting  herself  to 
painting  fruit  and  flowers  in  water-colours.  She  had  exhibited  such 
subjects  since  1796  at  the  Royal  Academy,  and  now  took  her  place 
as  the  first  representative  of  that  branch  of  art  in  the  Society's  annual 
show.  '  Her  flowers,'  says  Redgrave,  who  gives  us  the  above  facts  in 
his  Dictionary, '  were  well  grouped,  and  with  great  richness  of  colour 
combine  a  charming  freshness ;  but,  with  the  exception  of  a  bird 
exhibited  on  one  or  two  occasions,  her  art  was  confined  to  fruit  and 
flowers.'  There  is  a  study  of  flowers  by  her  at  South  Kensington 
grouped  after  the  manner  of  the  Dutch  painters  De  Heem  and  Van 
Huysum,  and  embellished  with  as  liberal  a  sprinkling  of  bees,  butter- 
flies, dewdrops,  and  other  minute  accessories,  as  one  is  apt  to  look 
for  in  the  works  of  those  masters.  It  appears  that  flower-pieces  were 
not  encouraged  in  the  early  days  of  the  Society,  and  that  the  admis- 
sion of  Miss  Byrne's  works  was  made  a  special  exception  to  a  rule 
relative  to  their  exclusion.  The  rule  was,  however,  rescinded  in 
January  1809.  Miss  Byrne,  was  moreover  the  first  lady-artist  who 
had  been  admitted  into  the  Society,  and  as  such  was  held  to  occupy 
a  peculiar  position.  The  special  provisions  applicable  to  her  class, 
while  they  assumed  disabilities  of  her  sex  in  the  conduct  of  business, 
which  are  in  modern  times  less  rigidly  insisted  on,  were  not  wanting 
in  chivalrous  generosity.  '  Ladies  associate-exhibitors,'  says  the 
writer  of  an  early  notice  of  the  Society,1  '  as  they  can  never  share 

1  See  Microcosm  of  London  (1808),  ii.  33. 

P 


210  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

actively  in  the  management  of  the  Society's  affairs,  are  not  eligible 
as  members  ;  but  from  the  moment  of  their  election  they  become 
entitled  to  partake  of  the  profits  of  the  exhibition  in  the  same  pro- 
portion as  the  members,  while  they  are  exempt  from  the  trouble  of 
official  duties,  and  from  every  responsibility  whatever  on  account  of 
any  losses  incurred  by  the  Society.' 

The  name  Chalon  is  more  commonly  associated,  in  the  history  of 
modern  painting,  with  Alfred  Ed-ward  Chalon,  the  younger  of  two 
brothers,  of  whom  the  new  exhibitor,  JOHN  JAMES  CHALON,  was 
the  elder.  The  two  were,  however,  so  closely  united  in  many  respects 
that  it  is  not  easy  to  treat  of  one  without  the  other.  Alfred  attained 
to  higher  distinction,  enjoying  Court  patronage,  and  a  unique  position 
as  the  fashionable  portrait  painter  in  water-colours.  John,  though  a 
clever  designer,  did  not  exhibit  many  pictures,  and  was  little  appre- 
ciated by  the  public.  But  he  and  his  merit  as  an  artist  were  widely 
known  and  recognized  in  the  private  and  professional  circles  wherein 
the  brothers  moved  as  inseparable  companions  during  their  long  lives. 
John  Chalon  was  twenty-seven  (Varley's  age)  when  he  was  chosen 
as  an  associate.  Alfred  was  nearly  five  years  younger.  They  had 
been  entered  as  students  of  the  Royal  Academy  (whereof  both  were 
in  after  years  to  become  full  members)  in  1796  and  1 797  respectively ; 
both  having,  like  so  many  other  successful  artists,  abandoned  the 
drudgery  of  commercial  pursuits  to  follow  their  common  bent. 

They  came  of  a  Huguenot  family  '  who  left  France  on  the  revoca- 
tion of  the  Edict  of  Nantes,  and  long  resided  in  Geneva,  where '  both 
the  artist  brothers  were  born.  Their  'grandfather  served  as  a 
volunteer  in  a  French  Protestant  regiment  in  Ireland,  under  King 
William  III.,  and  was  wounded  at  the  battle  of  the  Boyne.  On  the 
reverses  which  followed  the  French  Revolution  in  1789  the  family 
came  to  England,  and  the  father  was  appointed  professor  of  the 
French  language  and  literature  at  the  Royal  Military  College,  Sand- 
hurst, and  afterwards  settled  with  his  family  at  Kensington.'  ' 

John  Chalon  had  as  yet  shown  himself  only  as  a  painter  in  oils, 
having  exhibited  at  the  Academy  in  that  medium  since  1800.  At 
first  he  had  some  figure  pictures  there  of  the  genre  class,  but  in  1804 
or  1805  his  works  had  all  been  landscapes,  and  it  is  chiefly  as  a  land- 
scape painter  that  he  now  joined  the  water-colour  school. 

1  Redgrave's  Dictionary. 


CH    I  IN    BROOK   STREET,   1805,  1806  211 

ROBERT  FREEBAIRN  also  belonged  to  the  landscape  class,  and 
was  in  the  main  a  painter  in  oil.  He  was  of  the  earlier  generation, 
had  been  a  pupil  of  Wilson's,  the  last  that  master  taught,  and  on  his 
death  in  1782  had  gone  to  Italy  to  study.  From  that  year  he  sent 
pictures  to  the  Royal  Academy,  and  returning  to  London  in  1792  he 
continued  to  exhibit  Italian  landscapes  at  Somerset  House.  He  was 
forty  when  he  joined  the  Society.  His  place  was  not  in  the  front 
rank.  But  Redgrave  describes  his  works  as  '  carefully  and  neatly 
finished,'  and  his  colour  '  brilliant  and  pleasing.'  Hakewill  in  his 
'Tour'  couples  Freebairn  with  Wilson,  Cozens,  and  Smith  as  one  of 
the  great  depictors  of  Italy. 

WILLIAM  DELAMOTTE'S  surname  implies,  like  Chalon's,  a  French 
extraction.1  He  was  a  young  man  of  five-and-twenty,  who  had,  two 
years  before,  been  appointed  drawing  master  at  the  Great  Marlow 
Military  Academy.  He  had  previously  lived  at  Oxford.  Wales, 
Cumberland,  and  Derbyshire  had  been  his  rural  sketching  grounds, 
and  Girtin's  works  the  models  of  his  style.  Like  that  painter,  he  had 
also  sketched  in  Paris  during  the  short  Peace  of  Amiens  in  1802  ;  and 
some  half-dozen  views  of  Oxford,2  which  with  Welsh  and  other  land- 
scapes he  had  exhibited  at  Somerset  House  between  1796  and  1805 
showed  him  capable  of  strengthening  the  architectural  element  in  the 
Society.  Delamotte  had  begun  his  art-education  as  an  Academy 
student,  and  had  even  been  for  a  short  time  a  pupil  of  West's,  but 
had  taken  to  modern  landscape  as  a  branch  of  art  more  suited  to  his 
abilities  than  the  severer  school  to  which  such  teaching  naturally  led. 

Little  is  known  of  PAUL  SANDBY  MUNN,  except  that  he  had 
lived  at  Greenwich,  and  had  since  1798  been  exhibiting,  at  the 
Academy,  landscape  drawings  of  picturesque  subjects,  cottages  and 
the  like,  from  the  Isle  of  Wight,  the  English  Lakes,  and  North 
Wales.  His  baptismal  name  provokes  speculation,  in  seeming 
to  point  to  a  family  connexion  with  landscape  art.  There  was, 
indeed,  a  James  Munn,  who  exhibited  six  landscape  drawings  in  the 
old  societies'  galleries  from  1764  to  1774;  and  Redgrave  plausibly 

1  The  name  Delamotte  occurs  among  those  of  the  many  French  Huguenot  refugees  who 
settled  at  Canterbury.  (Kershaw's  French  Protestants  in  their  English  Homes,  p.  135.) 

1  A  plate  of  '  Oxford,  from  Ferry  Ilinksey,'  in  the  Beauties  of  England  and  Wales,  is 
dated  1834. 


r  2 


212  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805   1812  BK.  iv 

suggests  that  this  may  have  been  a  relation.  Possibly  it  was  his  father. 
The  younger  Munn  is  said  to  have  died  at  the  age  of  seventy-two  in 
1845,  and  could  thus  have  been  born  within  a  year  of  the  time  when 
the  elder  ceased  to  exhibit,  and  perhaps  to  live.  It  may  be  that  he 
was  a  devotee  of  Sandby's  art,  and  desired  to  dedicate  his  infant  son 
to  service  at  the  same  shrine.  It  would  be  easy  to  weave  a  pretty 
romance  to  suit  the  case.  But  there  is  no  tradition  to  support  it,  and 
it  must  be  confessed  that  Munn  junior,  though  he  painted  agreeably 
in  the  old-fashioned  way,  did  not  inherit  the  talent  of  a  Sandby,  any 
more  than  did  Raphael  Smith,  or  Claude  Nattes,  or  Anthony  Vandyke 
Fielding,  or  Julius  Cczsar1  Ibbetson  repeat  the  greatness  of  the  names 
their  parents  had  given  them. 

Munn  was  employed  as  a  topographic  draftsman  by  Britton,  in 
whose  Beauties  of  England  and  Wales  are  eight  plates  after  his 
drawings  or  sketches,  with  the  following  dates  of  publication, 
namely  :  '  Stoke  Park '  (sketched  by  Britton),  1 802  ;  '  Fowey  Har- 
bour,' '  Llanercost,'  '  Wolford  Lodge,  Devon,'  '  The  Monnow  Bridge 
&c.,  Monmouthshire,'  '  Buildwas  Abbey,  Salop,'  '  Wenlock  Abbey, 
Salop,'  1803,  and  '  Farleigh  House,  Somerset,'  1813. 

RICHARD  RAMSAY  REINAGLE  is  another  painter  whose  baptism 
records  artistic  descent  ;  for  his  second  name  is  doubtless  derived 
from  the  fact  that  his  father  had  been  a  pupil  of  Allan  Ramsay, 
portrait  painter  to  the  Court  of  King  George  the  Third.  The  father 
was  Philip  Reinagle,  A.R.A.,  and  afterwards  R.A.,  to  each  of  which 
suffixes  the  son  also  became,  for  a  time  at  least,  entitled. 

The  earlier  painter  of  the  name,  during  a  career  of  about  fifty-five 
years,  which  began  with  the  exhibition  of  a  work  in  1773,  seems  to 
have  studied  nature,  for  subjects  on  his  canvas,  in  a  descending  order 
through  creation.  For,  beginning  with  portraiture  of  the  lords  there- 
of, he  after  a  time  found  greater  fascination  in  lower  types  of  life, 
painting  horses,  hunting-pieces,  dogs,  and  birds,  till,  abandoning  the 
animal  kingdom,  he  subsided  into  landscape,  and  then  illustrated  a 
book  on  botany.  He  assisted  Barker  in  some  of  his  panoramas.2 
He  had  a  wonderful  knack,  too,  of  copying  Dutch  pictures  ;  and 

1  Ibbetson  is  said  to  have  owed  his  heroic  preenomen  to  the  fact  that  he  was  brought  into 
the  world  by  the  Caesarian  operation.  One  might  cite  the  cases,  too,  of  Michael  Angela 
Rooker  and  John  Buonarotti  Papworth,  were  it  not  that  the  second  name  was  in  theirs  a 
sobriquet  added  after  baptism. 

1  Sandby's  History  of  the  Royal  Academy,  i.  345. 


CH.  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,  1805,  1806  213 

his  reproductions  of  the    small  cattle-pieces  and  landscapes  of  that 
school  pass  as  originals. 

Young  Reinagle's  taste  seems  to  have  obtained  its  direction  from 
some  of  these  later  phases  of  his  father's  practice,  and  the  opportuni- 
ties of  study  which  were  given  him  accordingly.  He  was  born  on  the 
igth  of  March,  1775,  and  began  to  exhibit  at  the  Royal  Academy 
in  1788,  when  he  was  but  thirteen.  As  a  young  man  he  sketched 
in  Italy  and  in  Holland  ;  and  his  style  in  the  landscapes  which 
chiefly  engaged  his  prolific  pencil  showed  signs  of  both  these  educa- 
tional influences.  His  art,  it  need  scarcely  be  said,  was  far  from  being 
confined  to  water-colours.  He  painted  in  oils  ;  and  had  also  worked 
in  distemper  on  Robert  Barker's  panoramas.1  In  1802,  indeed,  he 
had  joined  partnership  with  that  artist's  eldest  son,  Thomas  Edward 
Barker,  and  set  up,  in  a  building  afterwards  converted  into  the  Strand 
Theatre,  a  rival  establishment  to  that  in  Leicester  Square.2 

With  JOHN  SMITH  we  have  already  made  some  acquaintance. 
He  was  the  '  Warwick  '  or  '  Italian  '  Smith  whose  name  is  associated 
with  the  great  reform  which  was  taking  place  in  the  practice  of  water- 
colour  drawing  at  the  close  of  the  last  century.  A  notice  of  his 
antecedents  and  method  of  work  has  already  been  given.3  Now  that 
the  Society  appeared  to  be  established,  he  overcame  his  shyness,  and 
allowed  himself  to  be  a  candidate  for  admission.  But  he  did  not 
exercise  the  privilege  of  exhibiting  until  more  than  a  year  after  it 
was  acquired. 

FRANCIS  STEVENS,  born  21  Nov.  1781  (possibly  at  Exeter,  as 
he  was  called  '  Stevens  of  Exeter,'  and  lived  there  at  one  time  4),  was 
another  and  a  clever  landscape  draftsman,  a  pupil  of  Munn's,  whose 
address,  at  107  Bond  Street,  is  that  which  he  gives  in  the  catalogue 
for  1806.  He  exhibited  five  studies  and  views  at  the  Royal  Academy 
in  1804  and  1805,  from  Middlesex,  Yorkshire,  and  Notts.  Rustic 
architecture  was  apparently  his  forte  ;  and  his  first  contributions  to 
the  Society  showed  that  he  had  sketched  in  Yorkshire  and  elsewhere. 
There  is  at  the  South  Kensington  Museum  a  rather  elaborate  drawing 
by  him  of  '  A  Devonshire  Cottage  '  dated  1 806,  probably  one  of  the 

1  One  of  his  panoramic  views  was  of  Rome.     There  is  a  copy  of  the  printed  '  Explana- 
tion '  of  it  at  the  British  Museum,  8vo,  1800  (?). 

'*  This  Strand  concern  was  sold  in  1816  to  Henry  Aston  Barker  and  John  Burford. 
1  See  Book  I.,  chap.  vi.  *  Redgrave's  Dictionary. 


214  THE   WATER-COLOUR    SOCIETY,   1805-1812  BK.  iv 

identical  works  contributed  on  his  election.  It  is  harmonious  and 
warm  in  tone,  '  painted  in  local  colour,  the  lights  boldly  taken  out  ; ' 
but  the  figures  are  too  small  for  the  buildings. 

JOHN  THURSTON  was  of  the  figure  department,  and  represented, 
though  incompletely,  the  school  of  illustration  which  was  wanting  in 
the  first  exhibition.  He  had  been  a  copper-plate  engraver,  and 
worked  with  James  Heath,  on  whose  '  Death  of  Major  Pierson '  and 
'  Dead  Soldier  '  his  burin  was  employed.  But  he  was  chiefly  known 
as  a  designer  of  book  illustrations,  for  the  most  part '  drawn  on  the 
block  for  wood-engraving.  The  following  works  contain  cuts  from  his 
designs  :  Burton's  Anatomy  of  Melancholy,  8vo  (Tegg),  1804  (frontis- 
piece);  Thomson's  Seasons,  royal  8vo,  1805  (cuts  by  Bewick); 
Beattie's  Minstrel,  4to,  1807  (cuts  by  Clennell) ;  Rev.  J.  Thomas's 
Religious  Emblems,  4to,  Ackermann,  1809  (cuts  by  Branston,  Clennell, 
and  Nesbit) ;  G.  Marshall's  Epistles  in  Verse  (cuts  by  Branston)  ; 
G.  A.  Stevens's  Lecture  on  Heads,  1 2mo  (47  cuts  of  heads  by  Nesbit). 
He  seems,  at  the  time  of  his  election,  to  have  been  preparing  a  set  of 
small  groups  for  an  edition  of  Shakspere,  published  by  Whitting- 
ham  in  1814.  Five  such  groups  were  what  he  sent  to  the  exhibition 
of  1806.  Most  likely  they  were  in  his  usual  manner,2  tinted  over 
Indian  ink.  These  were  the  only  drawings  he  exhibited  with  the 
Society.  His  figures  were  neatly  executed  with  a  firm  line,  but  too 
often  wanting  in  natural  expression.  He  was  born  at  Scarborough 
in  1774,  had  sixteen  works  at  the  Royal  Academy  between  1794  and 
1829,  and  died  at  Holloway  in  1822. 

With  these  additions  to  their  number,  the  Society  proceeded  with 
the  arrangements  for  their  second  exhibition,  to  take  place  in  the 
ensuing  season.  They  had  already  been  seeking  for  a  more  com- 
modious gallery  than  that  in  Brook  Street,  and  had  applied  to  Mr. 
Christie  the  auctioneer  for  the  rooms  then  held  by  him  in  Pall  Mall, 
the  same  that  had  been  occupied  by  the  Royal  Academy  before  its 
removal  to  Somerset  House.  Unable,  however,  to  come  to  terms  in 
time,  they  had  to  fall  back  upon  the  former  for  one  more  exhibition, 
under  a  fresh  lease  of  io/.  a  week  from  Mr.  Tresham.  But  (as 

1  There  are  four  designs  of  his  engraved   in  stipple  by  Ridley  in  an  edition  of  Zimmer- 
mann's  Solitude,  2  vols.  fcp.  8vo.  (Vernor  and  Hood),  1804,  1805. 

2  Dr.  Percy  had  an  illustration  by  him  of  Swift's  Tale  of  a  Tub,  '  4-45  x  8-45— outlined 
with  pencil  and  pen,  and  tinted.'     (Percy  Catalogue.) 


CH.  I 


IN    BROOK   STREET,  1805,  1806 


215 


announced  in  a  fly-leaf  of  the  catalogue  for   1806)   they  secured  the 
old  Academy  rooms  for  the  following  year. 

The  exhibitors,  generally  speaking,  had  had  good  reason  to  be 
satisfied  with  the  success  of  their  first  venture.  Glover  appears  to 
have  been  so  much  so,  that  he  gave  up  his  establishment  at  Lichfield, 
and  settled  himself  in  London,  at  No.  3  Montagu  Square.  The 
result  was  not  so  satisfactory  to  one  at  least  of  the  other  members. 
It  was  no  benefit  to  poor  Gilpin.  The  apparent  inferiority  of  his 
performances  to  those  of  some,  at  least,  of  his  companions  in  art,  had 
the  effect  of  alienating  his  pupils.  He  lost  much  of  his  great  practice 
as  a  drawing  master,  and  of  the  extensive  connexion  which  he  had 
commanded  through  his  uncle  the  Academician,  and  his  brother  the 
literary  amateur.  He  continued  indeed  to  exhibit  drawings  with  the 
Society,  but  the  move  he  made  was  the  reverse  of  Glover's.  He  retired 
from  town  to  settle  in  the  country,  accepting  an  engagement  as  a 
drawing  master  at  the  Royal  Military  College,  Great  Marlow,  sub- 
ordinate, it  is  presumed,  to  that  of  William  Delamotte.  On  the 
24th  of  March,  1806,  on  thus  leaving  London,  he  vacated  the  presi- 
dential chair,  much  to  the  Society's  regret.  Pocock  was  chosen  to 
supply  his  place  ;  but  he  refusing  the  post,  they  elected  Wells. 

The  second  '  annual '  exhibition,  still  at  Brook  Street,  opened  on 
Monday,  the  2ist  of  April,  and  closed  on  Saturday,  the  I4th  of  June, 
1806.  The  301  pictures  which  it  contained  were  contributed  in  the 
following  proportions  ;  prolific  John  Varley  again  heading  the  list  with 
even  one  more  than  in  1805,  and  Hills  rising  to  the  second  place  with 
almost  as  many. 

J.  Varley  .  .     43  Gilpin         .  .10  Chalon  .  .  5 

Hills .  .  .40  Havell        .  .  10  Munn  .  .  5 

Nicholson.  .     26  Pyne .         .  .  10  Reinagle  .  .  5 

Pocock  .  .     24  Cristall       .  .  9  Stevens  .  .  5 

Glover  .  .     20  Shelley       .  .  9  Thurston  .  .  5 

Barret  .  .18  Rigaud       .  .  8  Freebairn  .  .  3 

Wells  .  .17  Holsworthy  .  7  Delamotte  .  .  2 

Nattes  .  .     12  C.  Varley  .  .  7  Miss  Byrne  .  i 

The  strength  of  the  collection  lay  again,  we  may  be  sure,  in  the 
sound  broad  treatment  of  landscape,  real  and  imaginary,  by  Varley 
and  Havell ;  in  the  repose  and  sunshine  of  Barret's  classic  drawings 


216  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

in  Nicholson's  views,  powerful  and  deep  in  tone  ;  and  Glover's  less 
solid,  but  luminous  and  suggestive  realizations  of  nature. 

One  of  the  chief  things  that  strike  the  eye,  on  a  perusal  of  the 
list,  is  that  nearly  one-half  of  John  Varley's  works  are  now  described 
as  '  compositions.'  The  same  thing  was  to  happen  in  the  end  of  that 
artist's  career,  when,  having  nearly  ceased  to  sketch  from  nature,  he 
relied  almost  entirely  on  his  memory  and  imagination.  But  the  fancy 
drawings  of  this  early  period  were  of  a  different  class.  They  had  in 
all  probability  been  examples  given  to  his  pupils  in  certain  general 
principles  of  landscape  art,  which  he  practised  himself,  and  taught 
as  their  expositor,  and  which  were  recognized,  as  the  rules  of  common 
guidance,  by  the  school  whereof  he  and  the  leading  members  of  the 
Society  constituted  the  core.  One  of  Cristall's  drawings,  representing 
youths  bathing,  illustrative  of  some  lines  in  Thomson's  'Summer,' 
Pyne  speaks  of  as  'a  design  that  would  have  done  credit  to  any 
of  our  ancient  schools,'  and  could  not  have  been  expressed  in  a 
better  medium  for  the  purpose  than  water-colour.1  Shelley  seems  to 
have  drawn  so  largely  already  on  his  stock  of  imaginative  pictures, 
that  he  now  sends  but  two  (a '  Holy  Family,'  and  '  Love  disappointed" 
after  the  flattering  tale  told  by  Hope,  a  subject  suggested  by  a 
popular  ballad  of  the  time),  and  makes  up  his  number  with  portraits  ; 
while  Rigaud  represents  the  Death  of  Nelson,  in  due  allegoric  form, 
the  King  of  Terrors  inverting  his  torch,  and  Victory  and  eternal  Fame 
assisting  at  the  ceremony. 

When  the  exhibition  closed  and  the  committee  again  took  stock,  it 
was  found,  that  there  were  12,439  checks  of  admission,  which,  as  before 
at  one  shilling,  would  produce  62 1/.  19^.  And  the  sale  of  catalogues, 
for  which  an  extra  sixpence  was  now  demanded,  increased  the  gross 
receipts  to  7647.  ids.  A  balance  of  44O/.  3^.,  after  paying  expenses, 
was  divided,  in  like  manner  as  before,  among  the  sixteen  members, 
with  the  addition  of  Miss  Byrne,  who  seems  to  have  been  allowed  to 
participate  under  the  polite  arrangement  above  mentioned. 

The  principle  of  apportionment,  however,  dependent  as  it  was  upon 
each  member's  estimate  of  his  own  works,  was  already  beginning  to 
be  scrutinized.  It  was  naturally  considered  that  the  portraits,  of 
which  Shelley  had  sent  so  large  a  number,  and  which  could  not  fairly 
be  said  to  promote  the  Society's  objects,  did  not  justly  entitle  him  to 
a  share  of  profits  on  their  account.  Resolutions  to  that  effect  were 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  195. 


CH.  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,  1805,   1806  217 

passed  by  two  general  meetings  in  the  ensuing  spring.  The  imme- 
diate result  was  that  Shelley  resigned  the  treasurership,  much  to  the 
Society's  regret.  He  was  replaced  in  that  office  by  Reinagle,  who, 
together  with  '  Warwick  '  Smith,  had  been  raised  to  the  rank  of 
Member  at  the  anniversary  meeting  of  i  Dec.  1806.  Glover,  John 
Varley,  Cristall,  and  Barret  were  the  committee  for  1807. 

On  the  23rd  of  March  in  that  year,  Thomas  Heaphy  and  Augustus 
Pugin  were  selected  as  new  Associates,  out  of  nineteen  candidates. 
This  choice  added  in  each  case  to  the  artistic  strength  of  the  Society  ; 
in  the  former  to  the  figure  department,  in  the  latter  to  that  of  archi- 
tectural delineation. 

We  are  apt  to  boast,  with  good  reason,  of  the  native  origin  and 
character  of  our  British  school  of  water-colours.  Yet  several  of  its 
best  practitioners  have  been  of  foreign  descent.  It  was  so  with  both 
these  artists.  THOMAS  HEAPHY  came  from  the  Huguenot  colony  of 
silkweavers  in  Spitalficlds,  settled  there  after  the  revocation  of  the  Edict 
of  Nantes.  His  father,  John  Heaphy,  and  mother  (a  Frenchwoman 
whose  maiden  name  was  Katharine  Gerard),  lived  in  the  parish  of 
Cripplegate,  where  Thomas  was  born.  The  date  of  that  event  is  set 
down  by  Redgrave  in  his  Dictionary  as  29  December,  I775>  proba- 
bly on  sufficient  evidence  ;  though  in  an  earlier  account  given  of  him 
in  the  Century  of  Painters  it  was,  on  the  authority,  it  seems,  of  the 
artist's  son,  stated  to  have  been  '  about  1779-80.'  'In  his  early  years,' 
writes  the  son,  in  some  manuscript  memoranda,  communicated  also 
to  Mr.  Jenkins,  'he  showed  some  inclination  for  art;  and  his  father, 
doubtless  with  the  intention  of  utilizing  this  predilection,  apprenticed 
him  to  a  dyer.  This  occupation  being  distasteful  to  him,  his 
indentures  were  cancelled,  and  he  was  shortly  after  apprenticed  to 
Meadows '  the  engraver,  who  had  acquired  reputation  by  his  engrav- 
ings from  the  works  of  Richard  Wcstall.'  Long  after,  on  seeing  the 
series  of  Westall's  Sacraments  on  sale  at  the  European  Museum, 
Heaphy  pointed  them  out  to  Pyne  as  '  old  acquaintances,'  saying,  '  I 
worked  many  a  month — nay,  even  for  some  years,  on  the  large  plates 
from  these  identical  drawings.' 2 

1  Robert  Mitchell  Meadows  engraved  in  the  stipple  manner  for  Boydell's  Shakespeare 
Gallery,  and  after  Westall,  Hamilton,  and  others,  and  attained  much  distinction.  He 
published  in  1809  three  lectures  on  engraving,  and  died  some  time  before  1812.  (Red- 
grave's Dictionary, ) 

•  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \,  354. 


218  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  UK.  iv 

But  young  Heaphy,  to  whom  the  canvas  was  more  attractive 
than  the  copper,  used  to  spend  the  evenings,  when  he  had  done  his 
master's  work,  at  a  place  of  instruction  in  art  somewhere  in  Finsbury, 
conducted  by  a  painter  of  the  name  of  Simpson.1  It  seems  to  have 
been  a  good  school,  for  it  turned  out  several  scholars  well  known  after- 
wards in  the  profession  ;  among  them  H.  Ross,  father  of  Sir  W.  C. 
Ross,  R.A.,  and  like  his  son  a  miniature  painter.2 

Heaphy  moreover  began  to  paint  portraits,  and  exhibited  them  at 
Somerset  House  yearly,  from  1797,  when  he  made  his  debut  with  a 
likeness  of  himself.  With  this  exception,  his  sitters  are  for  the  most 
part  female,  and  for  some  years  exclusively  so.  In  1799  he  sends 
a  '  Portrait  of  Miss  Stephenson,' and  in  1800  one  of '  Mrs.  Heaphy,' 
together  with  '  Mrs.  Meadows,'  probably  the  wife  of  his  master,  the 
engraver.  Miss  Stephenson  and  Mrs.  Heaphy  were,  in  fact,  one  and 
the  same  person.  She  was  the  sister  of  a  fellow-student  at  Simpson's, 
and  Heaphy  married  her  while  he  was  still  an  apprentice.3 

He  had  now  to  earn  his  bread,  and  for  a  time  managed  to  subsist 
by  colouring  popular  prints,  on  soft  paper,  after  Westall's  pictures. 
He  was  what  was  called  a  '  soft-print  toucher.'  When  his  time  had 
expired  at  the  engraver's  he  also  became  a  student  at  the  Royal 
Academy.  While  in  the  schools  there,  he  gained  no  distinction  in 
the  shape  of  medal  or  premium,  for  he  chose  rather  to  follow  his  own 
ideas  than  conform  to  the  prescribed  course  and  tread  the  beaten 
track  of  study.  The  works  of  Westall,  which  he  had  had  to  observe 
so  carefully,  had  not  bred  in  his  mind  a  reverence  for  the  old  masters. 
It  was,  indeed,  too  much  the  practice  of  eminent  figure  painters  in  his 
day  to  neglect  the  study  of  nature.  In  works  of  the  fashionable 
class,  of  which  Westall's  drawings  may  be  taken  as  the  type,  they 
were  wont '  to  adopt  a  certain  conventional  style  of  feature,  even  in 
the  most  familiar  subjects,  that  stood  in  the  stead  of  expression  and 
individuality.'  Against  this  and  the  teaching  which  led  to  it,  Heaphy 
rebelled  ;  and  he  passed  the  better  part  of  his  life  in  earnest  and 
active  hostility  to  the  Royal  Academy,  and  what  he  called  '  academic 

1  It  has  also  been  stated  that  Heaphy  was  a  pupil  of  a  Mr.  Boyne,  who  held  a  draw- 
ing school  in  Gloucester  Street,  Queen   Square.     See  Arnold's  Magazine  of  the  Fine  Arts, 
p.  222,  '  Neglected  Biography.'     But  his  son  does  not  mention  this  school. 

2  This  is  the  account  given  by  Heaphy's  son,  who  adds  the  name  of  Thomas  Uwins,  R.A. , 
among  Simpson's  scholars  ;  but  we  find  no  reference  to  this  alleged  fact  in  Mrs.  Uwins's  life 
of  her  husband. 

3  His  son  spells  the  name  Stevenson. 


CH.  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,   1805,  1806  219 

art.'  Copying  a  motionless  model,  artificially  posed  in  the  studio,  was 
not,  as  it  seemed  to  him,  drawing  '  from  the  life.'  For  the  subjects  of 
his  pencil  he  betook  himself  to  the  fields  and  the  sea  beach,  and 
having  an  eye  to  the  varied  appearance  of  the  world  he  lived  in,  gave 
to  his  original  works  a  vitality  and  freshness  to  which  the  public  had 
not  been  accustomed  among  figure  draftsmen,  at  least  not  in  those 
above  the  rank  of  caricaturists,  like  Rowlandson.  Before  the  time 
of  his  entering  the  Society,  however,  this  side  of  his  art  seems  scarcely 
to  have  been  presented  to  the  public. 

His  son  writes  that  his  first  subject-picture  in  water-colours  was 
painted  when  he  was  about  twenty-one  or  twenty-two,  and  represented 
a  girl  stooping  over  a  river's  bank  to  gather  a  water-lily.  Except '  The 
Portland  Fish  Girl'  in  1804,  and  perhaps  a  study  called  'Watchful- 
ness '  in  1803,  we  find  nothing  of  his  of  an  earlier  date  in  the  Academy 
catalogues,  except  portraits.  But  in  the  latter  department  he  had 
been  rising  rapidly.  From  portraying  himself  (which  he  did  again  in 
1 80 1 ),  and  his  wife,  and  such  ordinary  folk,  he  had  ascended  to  a 
more  exalted  patronage.  In  1802  he  represents  in  one  picture  the 
Russian  Ambassador,  Count  Woronzow,  and  the  Countess,  Lady 
Palmerston,  the  Hon.  W.  and  Miss  Temple,  and  Lady  Lavington  ; 
and  the  next  year  he  appears  as  '  Portrait  Painter  to  the  Princess  of 
Wales,'  and  exhibits  portraits  of  her  Royal  Highness  and  other  persons 
of  rank.  It  is,  however,  exclusively  as  a  painter  of  subjects  from 
humble,  or,  it  might  more  correctly  be  said,  from  low,  life,  that  he  was 
to  make  his  appearance  in  the  Society's  exhibitions.  Portraits,  as  we 
have  seen,  had  been  virtually  excluded  from  the  walls  by  what  lawyers 
might  call  the  '  rule  in  Shelley's  case.'  He  had  '  struck  out,'  says 
Pyne, '  a  new  and  a  pleasing  style  of  execution,  and  manifested  an 
excellent  feeling  for  colouring.  Indeed,  he  gave  great  presage  of 
future  excellence,  by  a  very  original  path.' l  His  sentiment  was  not 
refined,  but  his  works  would  at  least  be  a  relief  to  the  conventional 
quality  of  Shelley's  and  of  Rigaud's. 

AUGUSTUS  PUGIN  was  a  Frenchman,  at  that  time  chiefly  en- 
gaged in  making  professional  drawings  for  Mr.  John  Nash,  who  built 
Regent  Street,  and  was  then  rapidly  acquiring  his  extensive  business 
and  fashionable  repute. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  194. 


220  THE   WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY    1805-1812  P,K.  iv 

Pugin  was  according  to  some  authorities  thirty-eight,  and  toothers 
forty-five  or  so,  when  he  joined  the  Society.1  He  came  of  a  good 
family,  being  descended  from  '  a  nobleman  who  raised  a  hundred 
soldiers  for  the  service  of  Fribourg,'  and  for  whose  valour  in  defeating 
the  same  number  of  cavalry  at  Morat,  besieged  by  Charles,  Duke  of 
Burgundy,  in  1477,  '  the  senators  augmented  his  arms  (fun  oiseau 
sable.' 2  When  a  young  man  in  France  he  is  said  to  have  associated 
with  distinguished  artists,  to  have  been  intimate  with  David,  and  a 
companion  of  Isabey's.  Monsieur  Lafitte,  a  member  of  the  Legion 
of  Honour,  and  one  of  the  household  of  the  Emperor  Napoleon  I., 
who  '  designed  among  other  works  the  panel  decorations  of  the 
"  Arc  de  Triomphe  "  in  the  Place  de  Carrousel,'  was  his  brother-in- 
law,  and  is  said  to  have  given  him  much  instruction.3  How  he  came 
to  leave  the  land  of  his  forbears  (the  ancestral  black  bird  notwith- 
standing), has  been  variously  related.  Ferrey  the  architect  (who  was 
his  pupil)  reports  that  in  the  French  Revolution  Pugin  fought  for  the 
king,  and  falling,  was  thrown  with  some  hundred  bodies  into  a  pit 
near  the  Place  de  la  Bastille,  but  swam  the  Seine,  fled  to  Rouen,  and 
thence  escaped  to  England.4  But  the  late  Charles  J.  Mathews,  the 
actor  (another  pupil),  tells  a  different  story.  He  says  that  Pugin, 
'  having  fought  a  duel  in  Paris,  which  ended  fatally,  sought  refuge  in 
England,  landed  on  the  Welsh  coast,  and  having  great  talent  as  an 
artist,  earned  his  living  for  the  time  being  by  his  pencil.'  5 

When  Pugin  first  came  to  this  country  his  condition  was  forlorn 
enough.  He  was  a  typical  Frenchman  of  the  ancien  regime,  with  '  a 
three-cornered  hat,  a  muff,  a  gold-headed  cane,'  and  little  or  no  know- 
ledge of  the  English  tongue.  For  some  time  his  friends  were  unable 
to  communicate  with  him  ;  for  when  he  called  for  his  letters,  the 
country  postmaster  failed  to  recognize,  in  his  pronunciation,  any  hint 
of  the  name  inscribed  on  a  pile  of  correspondence  that  stood  waiting 
to  be  claimed  by  its  rightful  owner,  '  Mr.  Puggen.'  The  story  was 
afterwards  told  by  Pugin  to  his  friend  Charles  Mathews,  the  elder 
comedian  of  that  name,  who  made  from  it  one  of  his  most  celebrated 


1  Benjamin  Ferrey,  in  his  Recollections  of  Welby  and  Augtistus  Pugin  (p.  l),  gives  the 
date  1762  as  that  of  the  latter's  birth;  but  states  (p.  101)  that  he  died  in  December  1832, 
'  at  the  age  of  63.'  Redgrave  takes  1762  to  be  the  true  date.  Other  compilers  give  1769. 

1  Ferrey's  Recollections  of  the  Pugins.  There  is  in  the  Art  Library  at  South  Kensington 
a  copy  of  The  Magazine  of  Fine  Arts,  vol.  i.  (1821),  with  a  book-plate  of  the  arms  of 
'  Augustus  de  Pugin,'  and  the  motto  'En  avant.'  3  Ibid.  pp.  30,  31. 

*  Ibid.  p.  2.  5  Dickens's  Life  of  C.  J,  Mathews,  \.  39. 


en.  I  IN    BROOK   STREET,   1805,  1806  221 

impersonations,  combining  humour  and  pathos,  in  the  little  piece- 
called  '  Monsieur  Malet.' l  Pugin,  indeed,  took  credit  fora  larger  share 
in  the  origin  of  Mathews's  '  at  homes ; '  for  he  was  even  wont  to 
insist,  in  after  years,  that  it  was  from  himself  that  the  comedian 
acquired  his  astonishing  power  of  mimicry  and  personation.2  In 
time  the  refugee  succeeded  in  mastering  our  language,  and  spoke  it 
perfectly,  '  as  far  as  volubility  was  concerned.'  So  at  least  says 
Mathews  the  younger  (no  bad  judge  of  volubility),  who  knew  him 
only  at  a  much  later  date  ;  adding,  however,  that  after  Pugin  had 
been  domesticated  in  England  for  some  forty  years,  '  his  French 
accent  and  his  French  idioms  were  as  marked  as  if  he  had  only 
recently  arrived.  If  he  talked  in  his  sleep,'  says  his  lively  pupil, '  he 
talked  in  French,  and  in  computing  money  he  always  mentally 
reduced  the  pounds  and  shillings  into  francs  before  he  could  ascertain 
their  exact  value.' 3  '  In  person  '  Pugin  '  was  remarkably  good-looking, 
and  in  manner  displayed  overwhelming  politeness.  His  foreign  shrug 
and  strong  accent  often  astonished  the  country  people  with  whom  he 
was  brought  in  contact.'  4 

The  precise  way  in  which,  and  time  when,  Pugin's  acquaintance 
was  made  with  John  Nash,  the  architect  of  Regent  Street,  which  is 
said  to  have  led  to  a  twenty  years'  connexion  between  them  as 
fellow-workers,  is  also  a  little  obscure.  Ferrey's  account  is  tolerably 
circumstantial.  He  says  that  Pugin's  attention  was  arrested  by  a 
newspaper  advertisement,  intimating  that  the  assistance  of  a  drafts- 
man was  required  in  Nash's  office,  and  that  a  foreigner  would  be 
preferred.  Pugin  thereupon  hastens  to  the  architect's  residence,  and 
in  the  waiting-room  comes  across  a  French  nobleman,  whom  he  had 
known  in  Paris,  a  candidate  for  the  same  appointment.  Nash  weighs 
their  qualifications,  and  chooses  Pugin.5  If,  however,  as  he  adds, 
Nash  was  then  '  in  the  full  tide  of  his  prosperity,'  and  proceeded  to 
employ  Pugin  on  (among  other  things)  drawings  of  a  proposed 
'  Waterloo  Monument ' — which  could  not  well  have  been  before  the 
latter  part  of  1815 — they  must  have  been  old  friends  at  the  time  of 
this  engagement.  For  Mathews  speaks  of  Nash  as  having  been  (in 
times  which  were  '  bygone'  in  1819)  a  '  humble  builder  of  Swansea,' 
and  of  Augustus  Pugin  as  one  who  '  had  painted  the  scenes  for  the 

1  Ferrey's  Recollections  of  the  Pugins,  pp.  2-4.  2  Ibid.  p.  29. 

1  Dickens's  Life  of  C.  J.  Mathews,  p.  42. 

4  Ferrey's  Recollections  of  the  Fugins,  p.  30.  5  Ibid.  p.  2 


222  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

little  Welsh  theatre.'1  And  Ferrey  himself,  in  another  place,  gives 
to  the  first  acquaintance  between  Pugin  and  the  elder  Mathews  the 
specific  date  1796,  when  the  latter,  '  returning  from  a  professional  en- 
gagement in  Ireland,  was  nearly  wrecked  on  the  coast  of  Wales,  and 
while  at  Carmarthen  fell  in  with  Nash  and  Pugin,2  who  thus  seem 
to  have  been  already  known  to  one  another.  Mathews  further  says 
that  his  own  father,  when,  'somewhere  about  1797,  a  struggling  actor 
on  the  Welsh  circuit,  made  the  acquaintance  of  Mr.  Nash  the  builder, 
at  Swansea,  who  was  a  great  patron  of  the  theatre  and  occasionally 
indulged  in  amateur  performances  himself.'3  And  he  tells  us  that 
Pugin,  '  having  become  a  great  favourite  of  and  of  much  use  to 
Mr.  Nash,  ultimately  accompanied  his  patron  to  London,  and  soon 
became  the  founder  of  a  school  of  his  own  creation,  and  one  much 
needed  and  highly  patronized.' 4  But  this  independent  position  had 
not  yet  been  attained.  In  1807  Pugin  had  barely  crossed  the  thres- 
hold of  his  career.  He  seems  already  to  have  been  collecting  mate- 
rials for  architectural  publications,  with  which  his  name  is  chiefly 
associated.  To  improve  such  practical  knowledge  of  art  as  he  had 
acquired  in  his  native  country,  he  had  become  a  student  of  the 
Royal  Academy,  and,  according  to  Ferrey,  was  the  companion  of 
Hilton  and  of  Shee.5  He  also  put  himself  under  the  tuition  of  an 
aquatint  engraver  called  Merigot,  probably  a  refugee  like  himself, 
whom  he  found  living  in  London,  and  who  had  formerly  been  a 
drawing  master  in  his  father's  family.  In  the  Academy  catalogues 
his  name  first  appears  in  1799,  more  as  that  of  an  architect  than  a 
picturesque  draftsman,  with  a  '  Design  of  an  intended  Villa  in  the 
North  of  England.'  The  next  year  he  has  a  '  View  of  Belvidere 
House,  Lambeth;'  but  nothing  more  till  1804,  when  he  enters  his 
proper  field  with  a  view  of  Westminster  Abbey.  In  1805  and  1806 
he  has,  each  year,  three  architectural  subjects,  four  of  them  from 

1  Dickens's  Life  of  C.  J,  Mathews,  i.  38.     In  Dr.  Percy's  collection  were  '  Two  Studies 
for  Operatic  Scenes,'  by  A.  Pugin. 

2  Recollections  of  the  Pugins,  p.  29. 

3  Ibid.    The  three  acted  together  in  the  '  School  for  Scandal,'  Nash  being  Sir  Peter  Teazle. 
Mathews  (the   younger)  had  a  playbill  naming  him    for  the  part,  and  had  heard  that  he 
performed  it  admirably.    Ferrey  also  mentions  such  a  playbill  (ubi  supra. )    He  says  that  Nash 
had  patrons  in  Wales  and  acquired  property  there  ;  and,  being  fond  of  theatrical  representa- 
tions, built  a  private  theatre,  in  which  Mathews,  Pugin  and  other  friends  acted  for  their  own 
amusement,  sometimes  inviting  the  surrounding  gentry  to  witness  their  performances.     (Re- 
collections of  the  Pugins,  p.  14.)  '  Ibid.  p.  40. 

5  It  is  again  difficult  to  reconcile  dates.     Shee  entered  the  schools  in  1790,  and  Hilton  in 
1806  (Sandby's  History  of  the  Royal  Academy},  being  a  contemporary  of  De  NVint's. 


CH.  I  IX    BROOK   STREET,  1805,  1806  223 

Oxford.     In   1807  he  exhibits  instead  at  the  Water-Colour  Society, 
beginning  with  an  '  Interior  of  St.  Paul's.' 

Of  the  many  books  of  architectural  illustration  for  which,  during 
a  quarter  of  a  century  from  this  time,  he  was  constantly  engaged  in 
making  drawings,  and  of  the  important  part  which  he  played  in  the 
revival  of  a  taste  for  the  Gothic  style,  mention  will  be  made  in  due 
time.  In  the  name  of  his  son,  A.  N.  Welby  Pugin,  the  Gothic  archi- 
tect, that  01  Pugin  is  known  to  many  who  are  not  aware  how  excel- 
lent an  artist  the  father  was  in  his  own  department  of  architectural 
drawing.  It  is  as  a  water-colour  draftsman  that  he  here  claims  our 
notice.  Some  of  the  designs  which  he  executed  for  Nash  on  a  large 
scale  were  in  body  colour.1  But  these  are  exceptional.  Mathews 
tells  us  that  he  produced  his  effects  by  the  most  simple  means,  con- 
fining himself  literally  to  the  use  of  three  colours,  indigo,  light  red,  and 
yellow  ochre.  '  It  would,'  he  justly  adds,  '  puzzle  some  of  our  modern 
water-colour  painters  to  find  themselves  thus  limited.' 2  This  par- 
ticular combination  we  now  know  to  be  unsafe  as  regards  perma- 
nence ;  but  at  the  time  they  were  painted,  Pugin's  drawings  were 
admired  for  their  colour,  as  they  still  deserve  to  be  for  their  form  and 
chiaroscuro.  'Architects,'  says  Mathews,  'flew  to  him  to  have  their 
plans  and  elevations  put  into  correct  perspective,  and  surrounded 
with  the  well-executed  and  appropriate  landscapes  Pugin  was  so 
skilful  in  producing.'  3 

1  Ferrey.  2  Dickens's  Life  of  C.  J.  Mathews,  \.  42.  »  Ibid.  pp.  39,  40. 


224  THE   WATER-COLOUR    SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 


CHAPTER    II 
IN    PALL  MALL  AND   BOND  STREET,    1807,  l8o8. 

The  old  Royal  Academy's  rooms — Third  Exhibition  (1807) — Royal  sentries — Continued  suc- 
cess— Nattes  expelled — His  subsequent  career — Glover,  President — Heaphy  and  Chalon 
Members—  Freebairn  dies — Posthumous  exhibits — Biographies  of  new  Associates— J.  A. 
Atkinson—  Studies  in  Russia — Published  works — William  Turner — Of  Oxford  — Early 
drawings —Fourth  Exhibition  (1808)— Bond  Street  rooms — A  rival  society—  The  Associ- 
ated Artists— Its  founding  and  constitution — Leading  Members — Turner  and  Atkinson, 
Members  of  The  Water-Colour  Society — Reinagle,  President  —Delamotte  retires— His 
subsequent  career. 

WHILE  the  Society  was  thus  securing  good  recruits,  active  prepara- 
tion was  being  made  for  its  next  exhibition,  and  the  shifting  of  its 
quarters  to  Pall  Mall.  The  old  rooms  of  the  Royal  Academy,  at 
No.  118  Pall  Mall,  which  had  at  length  been  engaged  for  the  purpose, 
were  situate  on  the  south  side  of  the  street,  a  little  to  the  eastward 
of,  or  partly  overlapping,  the  site  of  the  United  Service  Club.  The 
building  adjoined  old  Carlton  House,  which  stood  back,  behind  an 
imposing  colonnade  on  the  now  open  space  between  that  club  and 
the  Athenaeum.  The  galleries  belonged  to  Mr.  Christie,  the  auc- 
tioneer, and  had  been  used  as  the  sale  rooms  of  that  celebrated  firm 
at  least  as  late  as  1804,  previously  to  its  removal  to  a  house  further 
to  the  west  in  Pall  Mall,  near  to  the  War  Office,  adjoining  Schomberg 
House.  James  Christie,  the  founder  of  the  business,  died  in  1802. 
It  was  his  son,  James  the  second,  who  succeeded  him,  that  let  the 
rooms  to  the  Water-Colour  Society.  There  are  'several  drawings  in 
the  Grace  Collection  at  the  British  Museum,  showing  the  street  front 
of  the  old  Royal  Academy  ;  and  a  cut  of  it  in  Mr.  Sandby's  book. 
That  writer  further  refers  to  a  view  of  the  interior  in  1771,  painted 
by  Brondoin,  and  mezzotinted  by  Earlom,  representing  a  small  room, 
apparently  some  thirty  feet  long,  with  a  central  raised  skylight,  which 
was  seen  from  the  outside.1  Here  the  third  exhibition  opened  on  the 
27th  of  April,  1807,  and  it  remained  open  until  the  I3th  of  June. 

1  Sandby's  History  of  the  Royal  Academy,  \.  125,  131. 


CH.  II          IN   PALL   MALL  AND   BOND   STREET,  1807,  1808  225 

Gilpin,  still  a  Member,  though  no  longer  in  office,  did  not  with- 
draw his  goodwill  from  the  Society,  but  used  his  interest  to  give 
eclat  to  the  occasion  by  procuring  for  it  the  distinction  of  sentries 
from  the  King's  Guard  to  stand  in  the  passage  that  led  to  the 
gallery.  The  previous  success  was  more  than  repeated ;  14,366 
shillings  were  taken  for  admission  at  the  door,  beside  the  moneys  for 
catalogues  ;  and  47 1/.  7s.  \o\d.  was  the  sum  divided  ;  Glover  coming 
in  for  the  biggest  share,  88/.  6s.  ^d.  Two  rooms  were  open,  hung 
with  324  drawings,  about  half  in  each.  The  general  character  of  the 
show  resembled  that  of  its  predecessors  ;  except  that  there  were  now 
no  portraits  ;  that '  Warwick  '  Smith,  now  a  full  Member,  exhibited 
nineteen  works,  chiefly  subjects  of  Italian  landscape  and  ancient 
remains  ;  and  that  rustic  figures  by  Heaphy,  and  Pugin's  one  archi- 
tectural drawing,  were  among  the  Associates'  contributions. 

One  element  of  a  foreign  nature  had,  however,  been  inadvertently 
admitted  into  the  miscellany,  which  the  Society  was  not  slow  to 
repudiate.  On  the  I7th  of  June,  four  days  after  the  close  of  the 
exhibition,  a  meeting  was  called,  to  adjudicate  upon  a  serious  charge 
against  one  of  the  original  members,  Claude  Nattes.  It  was  to  the 
effect  that  a  great  part  of  the  drawings  sent  by  him  as  his  own  pro- 
ductions were  the  work  of  other  persons,  and  had  been  exhibited 
in  contravention  of  the  Society's  express  rule  that  the  works  of  out- 
siders were  not  admissible,  and  with  a  dishonourable  intention  of 
obtaining  a  larger  dividend  out  of  the  profits  than  the  exhibitor's 
own  works  would  have  entitled  him  to.  On  this  charge  Nattes  was 
found  guilty,  and  the  meeting,  bearing  in  mind  the  declaration  laid 
down  when  the  Society  was  founded,  that  its  members  were  to  be 
not  only  of  '  professional  reputation '  but  '  moral  character,'  passed  an 
immediate  sentence  of  expulsion.  Thus  the  first  member  who  left 
the  Society  retired  in  disgrace.  Nattes  again  resorted  to  Somerset 
House  for  exhibition.  His  name  appears  in  the  Academy  catalogues 
till  1814,  and  then  is  seen  no  more. 

At  the  anniversary  meeting,  on  the  3oth  of  November,  Glover  was 
elected  President,  in  the  place  of  Wells,  who  resigned  that  office  ;  and 
Heaphy  and  Chalon  were  raised  to  the  rank  of  Members. 

The  year  1 808  had  not  long  opened,  when  another  loss  occurred 
by  the  death  of  the  Associate  Robert  Freebairn,  on  the  23rd  of  January. 
It  was  in  relation  to  this  event  that  a  rule  was  made,  allowing 
the  family  of  a  deceased  Member  or  Associate  to  exhibit  works 

Q 


226  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,   1805-1812  BK.  IV 

prepared  by  him  for  the  gallery.  Freebairn's  widow,  however,  did  not 
avail  herself  of  the  permission  so  given  to  her.  He  had  exhibited 
only  eight  drawings  during  the  two  years  of  his  Associateship,  nearly 
all  views  in  Italy,  about  Tivoli  or  Rome. 

The  Society's  numbers  were  soon  replenished  by  the  election,  on 
the  29th  of  January,  1808,  of  two  new  Associates  :  John  Augustus 
Atkinson,  and  William  Turner. 

JOHN  AUGUSTUS  ATKINSON,  besides  being  an  oil  painter,  was 
a  spirited  and  powerful  sketcher  of  figures  and  figure  groups,  with  pen 
and  brush,  in  the  line  and  wash  manner  so  admirably  adapted  to 
reproduction  by  etching  and  aquatint  engraving.  '  His  light  touch,' 
says  Seguier,  '  appears  to  put  everything  in  motion.' '  Born  in 
London  in  1775  (the  birth-year  of  Turner,  Girtin,  Heaphy,  and 
Reinagle),  he  had  gone  to  Russia  when  nine  years  old,  and  been 
patronised  by  the  Empress  Catherine,  and  also  by  the  Emperor  Paul 
after  her  death  in  1796.  He  had  studied  in  the  gallery  at  St.  Peters- 
burg, and  there  are  two  pictures  by  him  of  subjects  from  Russian 
history  in  the  Michael's  Palace.  A  Russian  edition  of  Hudibras, 
published  in  1798  at  Konigsberg,  is  mentioned  as  illustrated  by  him.3 
In  the  year  of  Paul's  assassination,  1801,  Atkinson  came  home  with 
sketch-books  full  of  sketches  of  costumes,  and  memoranda  of  social 
habits  and  military  scenes,  which  supplied  him  with  much  of 
the  material  for  the  works  whereby  he  became  known  in  his  own 
country. 

In  1803-4  he  brought  out,  in  conjunction  with  one  James  Walker 
(no  relation  to  William),  who  had  gone  to  St.  Petersburg  in  the  same 
year  to  be  engraver  to  the  Empress,  and  returned  at  about  the  same 
time,  A  Picturesque  Representation  of  the  Manners,  Ciistoms,  and 
Amusements  of  the  Russians,  in  100  coloured  plates,  which  (in  an 
edition  dated  1812)  fill  three  folio  volumes.  Another  publication 
in  the  same  style,  called  A  Picturesque  Representation  of  the  Naval, 
Military,  and  Miscellaneous  Costumes  of  Great  Britain,  was  now  in 
course  of  publication.  Volume  I.,  published  1807,  contains  50,  the 
complete  work  too,  coloured  plates. 

In  the  same  year  he  had  produced  a  series  of  sixteen  coloured 
engravings,3  to  illustrate  separately,  or  bind  up  with,  the  two  volumes 

1  Dictionary  (i8",o).  2  Redgrave's  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

1  Published  by  Miller  in  Albemarle  Street. 


CH.  II          IN    PALL    MALL   AND    BOND    STREET,  1807,  1808  227 

of  Beresford's  amusing  book,  The  Miseries  of  Human  Life.  They 
are  etched  in  soft-ground,  and  the  shadows  aquatinted  ;  and  in  their 
graceful  composition,  freedom  of  touch,  and  delicacy  of  colour,  they 
bear  some  resemblance  to  the  best  designs  of  Rowlandson,  without  his 
coarseness.  There  is  also  a  folding  frontispiece,  so  etched,  by  him  and 
coloured,  to  an  edition  of  Stultifera  Navis,  8vo,  1807.  Since  1803  he 
had  exhibited  from  three  to  six  works  a  year  at  the  Royal  Academy  ; 
comprising  scenes  from  classic  history,  modern  military  subjects,  and 
picturesque  groups. 

WILLIAM  TURNER,  it  need  scarcely  be  said,  was  not  the  great 
painter  of  that  name.  He  is  usually,  by  way  of  distinction,  called 
'  Turner  of  Oxford,'  having  been  born  (at  Blackbourton)  in  that 
county  on  the  I2th  of  November,  1789;  and  having  resided  (near 
Woodstock)  in  the  same  county  during  the  greater  part  of  his  life. 
He  was  as  yet  a  very  young  landscape  painter,  and  had  just  com- 
pleted a  term  of  apprenticeship  to  John  Varley,  being  one  of  the 
earliest  of  a  series  of  pupils  whom  that  artist  had  begun  to  receive 
into  his  house  for  training  as  artists.  He  is  chiefly  remembered  in 
the  gallery  by  his  later  drawings,  generally  extensive  views,  very 
painstaking  and  conscientious,  but  of  a  realistic  kind,  and  wanting 
in  interest  as  works  of  art.  But  his  early  drawings  possess  a  certain 
grandeur  and  a  breadth  of  composition,  obviously  the  result  of  the 
good  training  he  had  thus  received.  In  three  of  the  drawings'  which 
the  young  artist  exhibited  on  joining  the  Society,  John  Landseer  finds 
the  '  wide  range  of  capacity  and  contrivance,  of  a  veteran  landscape 
painter  to  whom  nature  has  become  familiar  ; '  adding,  more  specific- 
ally :  '  By  the  dint  of  his  superior  art  he  has  rolled  such  clouds  over 
these  landscapes  as  has  given  to  a  flat  country  an  equal  grandeur 
with  mountain  scenery,  while  they  fully  account  for  the  striking  and 
natural  effects  of  light  and  shade  which  he  has  introduced.  His 
colouring '  adds  the  critic,  '  is  grave,  subdued,  and  such  as  properly 
belongs  to  landscapes  of  a  majestic  character.' a 

For  the  exhibition  of  1808,  the  Society  had  again  to  shift  their 
quarters,  the  old  Academy  rooms  being  reported  by  their  surveyor  to 
be  in  a  dangerous  condition,  and  unfit  for  further  use.  After  some 

1  '  Cornfield  near  Woodstock,'  '  Ottmoor,  near  Oxford,'  and  '  Whichwood  Fcrest,  Oxford- 
shire' (exhibited  1808,  1809). 

1   The  Review  of  Publications  in  Art  (1808),  p.  288. 

Q2 


228  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

inquiry  as  to  the  cost  of  building  a  gallery,  although  the  Society  had 
no  funds  for  that  purpose,  the  Committee  engaged  for  that  season,  at 
the  rent  of  400  guineas,  two  large  rooms  belonging  to  a  Mr.  Oakley, 
at  No.  1 6  Old  Bond  Street,  opposite  Stafford  Street  ;  and  there 
the  fourth  exhibition  was  held.  The  aspect  of  the  gallery  at  that 
time  has  been  preserved  to  us  in  a  view  taken  of  it  by  Pugin  with 
the  Committee's  sanction.  It  is  enlivened  with  figures  by  Rowland- 
son,  and  forms  one  of  a  published  series  of  coloured  aquatints, 
commenced  this  year  and  continued  till  1810,  by  these  two  artists, 
under  the  title  Microcosm  of  London.  The  number  of  the  house,  for 
a  wonder,  is  unchanged,  and  it  now  contains  a  lofty,  well-proportioned 
show-room,  the  length  of  which  is  at  right  angles  to  the  street.  This 
may  have  been,  formerly,  the  '  two  large  rooms '  so  used. 

The  plate  above  referred  to  is  numbered  34  in  the  series,  and 
entitled  '  Exhibition  of  Water-colour  Drawings  in  Old  Bond  Street,' 
with  the  imprint  'London,  Pub.  1st  Sepf  1808  at  R.  Ackermann's 
Repository  of  Arts,  101  Strand.'  '  Rowlandson  et  Pugin  del*  et 
sculp*. — Stadler  Aquat.'  It  is  accompanied  by  a  short  account  of 
the  origin  and  constitution  of  the  Society,  and  to  this  is  appended  a 
notice  of  the  inauguration  of  a  second  water-colour  exhibition  which 
had  sprung  into  existence  in  the  same  season.  As  many  mistakes 
have  arisen  from  a  confusion  between  this  short-lived  rival  institution 
and  the  Society  whereof  the  annals  are  here  being  traced,  as  accurate 
a  synopsis  of  its  history  will  be  included  in  this  volume  as  can  be 
obtained  from  the  rather  scanty  records  which  still  survive. 

The  movement  which  gave  rise  to  this  new  institution  has  its 
counterpart  in  the  formation  of  more  than  one  body  established  in 
modern  times  with  a  similar  object.  So  far,  the  progress  of  the 
original  Society  had  continued  without  let  or  hindrance,  and  the 
obvious  advantages  of  belonging  to  it  could  not  fail  to  excite  emula- 
tion, and  probably  some  envy,  among  those  in  the  profession  who  were 
left  outside  the  charmed  circle.  To  these,  the  exclusive  nature  of  the 
constitution,  under  which  its  walls  were  reserved  entirely  for  Members 
and  Associates,  appeared  to  leave  room  for  another  exhibition,  still 
confined  to  water-colour  drawings,  but  on  a  more  enlarged  plan,  and 
practically  open  to  all  members  of  the  profession.  It  was  thought, 
moreover,  that  a  society  formed  on  a  more  comprehensive  scale  would 
ensure  a  variety  the  want  of  which  was  perceptible  in  the  existing 
exhibition,  notwithstanding  its  acknowledged  merit.  This  feeling 


CH.  II          IN    PALL   MALL  AND   BOND   STREET,  1807,  1808  229 

took  organic  shape  at  a  meeting,  which  was  held  on  Wednesday  the 
24th  of  June,  1807,  at  the  Thatched  House  Tavern  (one  William 
Wood,  a  miniature  painter,  occupying  the  chair)  and  resulted  in  the 
following  list  of  names  being  drawn  up  as  those  of  the  first  members 
of  a  new  association  with  the  above  objects  : — 


William  James  Bennett 
Henry  Pierce  Bone 
James  Green 
J.  Huet-Villiers 
J.  Laporte 
Andrew  Robertson 


W.  J.  Thompson 
William  Walker 
Walter  H.  Watts 
H.  W.  Williams 
William  Wood 


At  a  second  or  adjourned  meeting,  held  on  the  1st  of  July,  it  was 
resolved  that  the  Society  should  be  confined  to  proficient  artists  in 
water-colours  or  chalks,  and  it  seems  to  have  been  at  this  time 
intended  to  make  a  direct  attack  upon  the  status  of  the  existing  body, 
by  the  assumption,  without  qualification,  of  the  same  title  that  it 
had  chosen, '  The  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours'  It  is  probable 
that  this  assumption  has  been  at  the  root  of  some  of  the  confusion 
above  mentioned  as  existing  between  the  two  Societies.  But  the 
title  was  soon  modified,  and  abandoned.  First  it  was  changed  to 
'  The  Nezv  Society  of  Painters  in  Miniature  and  Water-Colours  ; '  and 
then,  on  the  I4th  of  January,  1808,  a  resolution  was  passed  :  'That 
the  temporary  title  of  the  Society  be  discontinued,  and  the 
following  adopted  in  its  room :  ASSOCIATED  ARTISTS  IN  WATER- 
COLOURS.'  Another  source  of  confusion  lies  in  the  fact  that  the 
'  Associated  Artists '  came  into  visible  being  at  the  very  same  place 
as  the  original  Society.  They,  too,  held  their  first  exhibition  at  Mr. 
Tresham's  rooms,  No.  20  Lower  Brook  Street,  and  they  also  after- 
wards removed  to  Bond  Street,  occupying  there,  for  at  least  three 
years,  the  Society's  former  quarters  at  No.  16. 

Except  that  the  number  of  members  was  to  be  without  limit,  and 
was  to  be  increased  from  time  to  time  by  the  addition  of  those  among 
the  exhibitors  whose  works  should  be  most  conspicuous,  the  laws  of 
the  new  Society  were  for  the  most  part  similar  to  those  of  the  old.  A 
higher  tribute  was  however  paid  to  the  capacity  of  its  lady-members, 
who  were  held  entitled  to  vote  on  all  occasions  with  the  lords  of  the 
creation. 

The  first  exhibition  was  optncd  on  the  2$th  of  April,  1808.     The 


230 


THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812 


BK.  IV 


number   of    exhibited    works    was     273,    among   which    miniatures 
played  an  important  part. 

There  were  then  eighteen  members ;  and  to  these  were  added 
another  eighteen  as  '  fellow-exhibitors.'  The  following  are  the  two 
lists,  as  given  in  the  catalogue. 


MEMBERS. 


William  Wood,  President 

James  Green,  Treasurer 

Andrew  Robertson,  Secretary 

William  James  Bennett  ' 

Henry  P.  Bone 

Alfred  Chalon 

Mrs.  Green 

J.  Huet-Villiers 

John  Laporte 


Samuel  Owen 
John  Papvvorth 
Miss  Emma  Smith 
William  John  Thomson 
William  Walker, junior^ 
Walter  Henry  Watts 
William  Westall  ' 
H.  W.  Williams a 
Andrew  Wilson 


W.  Annis 
Tho.  Baxter 
R.  Dagley 
P.  Dewint ' 
Geo.  Dinsdale 
L.  Francia 
Miss  Gartside 
E.  Goodwin 
J.  Hewlett 


EXHIBITORS. 

J.  Holmes1 
J.  Leschallas 
Fred.  Nash  ' 
Wm.  Pearson 
Jos.  Powell 
J.  C.  Schetky 
J.  Clarendon  Smith 
D.  Thompson 
C.  Turner 


Among  the  above  names  will  be  recognized  those  of  some  artists 
with  whom  we  have  already  made  acquaintance.  Among  them  are 
Alfred  E.  Chalon  (John's  more  distinguished  brother),  and  the  draw- 
ing master  Laporte.  There  is  also  Louis  Francia,  whose  career  has 
been  sketched  in  connexion  with  Girtin's.  Samuel  Owen  was  another 
sea-painter  in  whose  works  may  be  recognized  the  same  fine  feeling 
for  composition  that  was  displayed  by  the  master  just  named  :  and 
John  Christian  Schekty  was  an  eminent  and  loving  depicter  of  the 

1  These  were  all  in  after  times  Members  or  Associates  of  the  Water-Colour  Society. 

2  Hugh  William  Williams  (born   1773,  died  1829),  known  as  'Grecian  Williams,'  and 
afterwards  in  much  repute  in  Edinburgh,  was  an  unsuccessful  candidate  for  the  Water-Colour 
Society  in  1807.     (Redgrave's  Dictionary  of  Artists.) 


CH.  II  IN    PALL    MALL   AND    BOND    STREET,  1807,   1808  231 

wooden  walls  of  England.1  Henry  P.  Bone  (afterwards  Court  enamel- 
painter,  as  his  father,  Henry  Bone,  R.A.,  was  before  him)  and  John 
Buonarotti  Papivortli  (architect  and  ornamental  draftsman)  are  other 
well-known  names  in  the  list  of  members ;  and  of  some  of  the 
remainder  much  will  be  said  in  future  chapters. 

An  advertisement,  of  which  the  following  is  the  material  part,  was 
prefixed  to  the  catalogue  :  '  The  members  of  this  Society  think  it 
proper  to  state,  that  in  forming  the  present  exhibition  they  were  not 
influenced  by  any  sentiment  of  hostility  or  opposition  to  the  society 
which  originated  a  few  years  ago  under  a  similar  appellation.  The 
rapid  advance  which  this  class  of  art  had  made,  its  powers  of  reach- 
ing greater  excellence,  if  judiciously  employed,  and  the  propriety  of 
separating  drawings  and  pictures  in  water-colours  from  the  immediate 
contact  of  those  produced  with  other  materials,  were  probably  the 
motives  for  forming  that  society  :  the  same  opinions,  the  same  feelings 
led  to  the  association  of  the  artists,  who  now,  for  the  first  time  as  a 
distinct  body,  submit  their  works  to  public  inspection.  .  .  . 

'  The  Society  will  listen  with  respectful  deference  to  the  public 
opinion,  and  repeat  or  withdraw  their  pretensions  accordingly." 

A  contemporary  writer,  favourable  to  the  new  scheme,  declares 
that  in  its  first  year  the  Associated  Artists  '  met  with  encouragement 
similar  to  that  which  the  prior  establishment  had  experienced.'2  It 
did  not  however  last  more  than  five  years.  But,  during  that  period, 
the  exhibitors,  of  one  class  or  the  other,  included  a  few  artists  of  con- 
siderable note,  and  some  who  afterwards  became  members  of  the 
Water-Colour  Society. 

Meanwhile  the  old  Society,  though  moving  from  place  to  place, 
was  in  other  respects  making  satisfactory  progress.  The  number  of 
admissions  on  payment  in  1808  was  one  less  than  19,000,  and  the 
profit  divided  more  than  445/.  At  the  anniversary  meeting  of  the 
3Oth  of  November,  Turner  and  Atkinson  were  made  full  Members ; 
and,  on  the  resignation  of  Glover,  Reinagle  was  elected  President  for 
the  ensuing  year. 

Four  drawings  in   1 808  were  the  last  which  the  Society  received 

1  Both  these  marine  painters  lived  to  a  great  age.  Owen  died  in  December  1857,  in  his 
ninetieth  year,  having  long  ceased  to  practise  his  art  (Redgrave's  Dictionary]  ;  and  Schetky 
lived  till  his  ninety-sixth  year,  dying  in  1874  (see  Ninety  Years  of  Work  and  Play,  a  Life  t 
J.  C.  Schetky,  by  his  daughter). 

*  Rfitrocosm  of  London,  ii. 


232  THE  WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

from  the  hand  of  WILLIAM  DELAMOTTE.  He  had  contributed  in 
all  only  eleven,  and  been  but  three  years  an  Associate,  never  rising 
to  the  rank  of  Member.  His  subjects,  after  the  first,  were  views  on 
or  near  the  Thames  at  Marlow  &c.,  with  two  or  three  drawings  from 
his  Paris  sketches  in  1802.  He  continued  his  practice  as  landscape 
artist  and  teacher  of  drawing  for  many  years  after.  On  the  reopening 
of  the  Continent  to  English  travellers  he  was  able  to  replenish  his 
portfolio  with  foreign  subjects.  Some  views  in  Belgium  dated  1819 
are  among  his  drawings  at  South  Kensington.  Graves  finds  seventy- 
three  works  by  him  recorded  in  the  catalogues  of  the  Royal  Academy, 
British  Institution,  and  Suffolk  Street  exhibitions,  between  1793  and 
1850. 

A  drawing  of  'Christ  Church  Oxford,  from  Hinksey  Meadows' 
(20^  x  29^  in.),  on  wire-wove  paper,  in  the  South  Kensington  Museum, 
justifies  the  description  given  by  Redgrave1  of  the  artist's  early  works 
as  being  '  in  the  manner  of  Girtin."  '  Later,'  adds  the  same  writer, '  his 
landscapes  were  chiefly  drawn  with  the  pen  and  tinted,  and  were 
peculiar  in  style.'  He  lived  to  old  age,  dying  on  the  I3th  of 
February,  1863,  at  St.  Giles's,  near  Oxford. 

The  following  prints  in  The  Beauties  of  England  and  Wales  are 
from  Delamotte's  drawings:  'Oxford,  from  Ferry  Hinksey,'  1804; 
'  View  in  Dovedale,'  1805  ; '  Tetbury '  (from  a  sketch  by  Prout),  1807  ; 
'  Matlock  Bath,'  1809.  He  published  Thirty  Etchings  of  Rural 
Subjects  in  1816.  Illustrations  of  Virginia  Water,  lithographed  by 
W.  Gauci,  impl.  4to,  1828;  and  Original  Views  of  Oxford,  coloured 
lithographs,  impl.  folio,  1843,  bear  the  name  of  '  W.  A.  Delamotte.' 

There  are  other  artists  of  the  same  surname.  A  brother,  who 
signed  himself  '  George  O.  de  la  Motte,'  was  also  a  landscape 
painter ;  and  a  son,  Philip  Henry  Delamotte,  practised  as  a  photo- 
grapher as  well  as  a  draftsman,  and  published  many  views,  and 
some  technical  treatises.  The  latter  died  at  Bromley  in  Kent  on 
the  24th  of  February,  1889.  There  are  moreover  some  works  on 
ornament  by  F.  or  F.  G.  Delamotte,  probably  of  the  same  family. 

1  Dictionary  of  the  English  School, 


CH. in  233 


CHAPTER   III 
AT  SPRING  GARDENS,    1809  to 

At  Wigley's  Rooms— Exhibition  of  1809  -Testimonials— Changes  to  1812— Shelley  dies — 
Final  biography — Death  of  Paul  Sandby — Final  biographies  of  retiring  members —  W.  H. 
Pyne — Heaphy — Biographies  of  new  Members  and  Associates —  Thomas  Uivins —  William 
Payne — Edmund  Dorrett— Charles  Wild — Frederick  Nash — Peter  De  tVint — Copley 
Fielding—  William  Westall. 

THE  Society  enjoyed  no  rest,  however,  in  their  new  quarters.  They 
were  unable  to  obtain  the  rooms  from  Mr.  Oakley  for  the  ensuing 
season,  and  being  again  cast  adrift,  they  finally  came  ashore  in  Spring 
Gardens  at  the  historic  site  of  many  an  old  exhibition  ;  where  the 
Incorporated  Society  of  Artists  had  held  their  shows  for  a  long  series 
of  years  ;  where  Girtin  had  spread  his  view  of  London  ;  and  where, 
more  recently,  under  the  name  of '  Wigley's  Rooms,'  a  variety  of  mis- 
cellaneous sights  had  been  offered  to  view.  These  rooms  were  in  the 
last  house  on  the  right  hand,  adjoining  the  iron  gateway  from  Spring 
Gardens  into  the  Mall,  there  being  then  no  building  beyond,  on  the 
site  now  occupied  by  the  offices  of  the  London  County  Council.  From 
this  Mr.  Wigley  they  hired  the  gallery,  on  a  lease,  at  zoo/,  for  three 
months  in  each  of  the  next  fourteen  years  ;  and  from  1809  to  1820 
the  exhibitions  which  form  the  main  subject  of  this  chronicle  were 
held,  as  the  catalogues  have  it, '  at  the  Great  Rooms,  Spring  Gardens.' 
Exhibition  galleries  were  usually  called  '  great  rooms '  in  those  days. 
That  at  Spring  Gardens  was  in  size  58  by  44  feet. 

The  Exhibition  of  1809  was  the  most  successful  of  any  which  the 
Society  had  yet  held.  The  number  of  drawings  amounted  to  341  ; 
and  a  surplus  of  626!.  was  divided  among  the  members,  whose  feel- 
ings of  satisfaction  with  the  state  of  things  and  with  one  another 
found  vent  in  testimonials  of  a  substantial  kind.  The  Secretary  and 
Treasurer  had  already  been  voted  an  annual  So/,  each  out  of  the 
profits  ;  in  addition  to  which,  a  presentation  of  plate  of  the  value  of 
100  guineas  was  made  by  general  subscription  to  Robert  Hills,  '  as  a 
token  of  respect  and  gratitude  for  his  unremitting  services  since  the 


234  THE   WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

establishment  of  the  Society  in  1804."  Hills,  however,  gracefully 
declining  to  accept  both  honoraria  at  the  same  time,  the  amount  of 
his  5O/.  salary  was,  at  his  suggestion,  employed  in  providing  a  similar 
testimonial  to  R.  R.  Reinagle,  the  treasurer.  Both  presentations 
took  place  at  the  anniversary  meeting  in  November. 

Within  the  period  now  commencing,  although  the  local  habitation 
remained  the  same,  important  changes  were  to  take  place  in  the  con- 
stitution of  the  Society,  as  well  as  in  the  group  of  artists  of  which  it 
was  composed.  Until  1812,  an  epoch  to  be  borne  in  mind,  when  an 
absolute  revolution  took  place  which  will  presently  be  described, 
these  changes  were  chiefly  of  the  latter  kind.  In  the  course  of  the 
four  years  1809  to  1812  the  following  fresh  dozen  of  artists  joined 
the  Society  as  Associates  : — 

Thomas  Uwins     \ 

William  Payne 

„,  .,    Y     .  elected  15  Feb.  1809 

Edmund  Dorrell 

Charles  Wild 

Frederick  Nash  .         .         .         .    \ 

Peter  De  Wint  .         .         .         •    }     •         »        22  Jan.  1810 

Anthony  Vandyke  Copley  Fielding  I 

William  Westall „       iijune,  1810 

William  Scott ,,30  Nov.  1810 

David  Cox        \ 

Luke  Clennellf  .         ,'        .         .         .         „         8  June,  1812 

C.  Barber         ) 

On  12  June,  1809,  Stevens  and  Dorrell;  on  n  June,  1810,  Nash 
and  Uwins;  on  10  June,  1811,  De  Wint  and  Westall;  and  8  June, 
1812,  Wild  and  Pugin,  were  taken  from  the  list  of  Associates  and 
made  into  full  Members  ;  the  limit  of  number  being,  on  the  2gth  of 
November,  1810,  extended  from  twenty-four  to  thirty,  though 
in  point  of  fact  it  never  exceeded  twenty-five.  In  the  Presidential 
chair — which  had  been  filled  from  Nov.  1804  to  March  1 806  by  Gilpin, 
from  that  time  till  Nov.  1807  by  Wells,  and  then  till  Nov.  1808  by 
Glover — Reinagle  sat  from  Nov.  1808  to  the  end  of  the  term.  The 
post  of  Treasurer  was  held  by  Shelley  from  Nov.  1804  to  March 
1 807  ;  by  Reinagle  from  that  time  to  Nov.  1 808  ;  and  by  Rigaud  to  the 
end  of  the  term.  During  the  whole  period  the  duties  of  Secretary 
were  performed  by  Hills. 


CH.  in  AT  SPRING   GARDENS,  1809-1812  235 

Besides  the  expulsion  of  Nattes,  the  Society  had,  on  the  other 
hand,  been  weakened  in  numbers  by  several  desertions,  and  by  one 
death.  The  catalogue  of  1808  is  the  last  which  contains  the  name 
of  SAMUEL  SHELLEY.  Redgrave  tells  us  that  he  died  at  his  house 
in  George  Street  on  the  22nd  of  December,  1808,  at  the  age  of  fifty- 
eight.1  He  had  continued  to  adorn  the  walls  of  the  galleries  in  Pall 
Mall  and  Bond  Street  with  ideal  studies  and  pleasing  fancies  inspired 
by  Tasso  and  other  poets,  and  in  this  last  year  again  placed  some 
professed  portraits  among  the  drawings  he  exhibited,  notwithstanding 
their  exclusion  from  a  share  of  profits.  But  his  works  had  no  place 
in  the  series  of  exhibitions  at  Spring  Gardens.  His  total  number  of 
drawings  in  the  Society's  gallery  amounted  to  sixty-three.  Shelley 
made  some  designs  for  book  illustrations,  and  there  are  prints  after 
him  by  Bartolozzi,  Caroline  Watson,  Nattes,  Collier,  Heath,  Engle- 
heart,  Sherwin,  Burke,  and  Knight.  It  is  stated  that  of  some  of  his 
works  he  was  his  own  engraver.  A  pencil  sketch  by  him  of  himself 
and  his  sister,  purchased  at  Sotheby  and  Co.'s  in  November  1884,  is 
in  the  writer's  possession. 

Another  noted  life  came  to  an  end  in  the  first  year  of  the  Spring 
Gardens  exhibition.  Old  Paul  Sandby  was  gathered  to  his  fathers 
at  the  age  of  eighty-three  in  the  late  autumn  of  1809.  With  him 
died  out  the  prior  generation  of  the  water-colour  school  of  which  he 
had  been  in  many  respects  the  father.  He  had  now  survived  his 
brethren  and  many  of  his  artist  progeny,  and  had  even  in  his  own 
practice  somewhat  outlived  the  method  of  art  more  peculiarly  his 
own.  The  tree  drawings  he  made  in  Windsor  Park  when  more  than 
seventy  had  chiefly  been  executed  in  distemper.  He  expired  peace- 
fully, with  faculties  unimpaired,  at  his  house  in  St.  George's  Row. 
The  place  where  his  body  rests  (on  the  eastern  side  of  the  cemetery 
behind,  close  to  the  path)  is  marked  by  a  flat  stone  slab,  plainly  sup- 
ported by  a  few  rows  of  bricks,  and  inscribed  in  very  large  letters 
with  the  simple  words — 

PAUL    SANDBY,    R.A. 

OBIIT   NOVEMBER 

7™    1809. 

1  Dictionary  of  English  School.  But  the  facts,  first  that  Nagler  gives  the  date  1810,  and 
secondly,  that  a  certain  '  Dowager  Lady  Shelley '  died,  according  to  the  Annual  Register 
(which  docs  not  mention  Samuel),  on  this  22  Dec.  1808,  combine  to  raise  a  suspicion  of  error. 


236  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

Sandby's  death  occurred  just  seven  years,  less  two  days,  after  that  of 
his  bright  young  neighbour,  Thomas  Girtin. 

The  name  of  another  of  its  founders  passes  out  of  the  Society's 
records  during  the  period  of  removal  from  Bond  Street  to  Spring 
Gardens.1  On  the  nth  of  January,  1809,  WILLIAM  HENRY  PYNE, 
the  zealous  promoter  of  its  formation,  chose  to  exemplify  the  alleged 
fickleness  of  his  disposition  by  resigning  his  membership,  and  de- 
voting himself  to  pursuits  still  connected  with  art,  but  in  which  the 
work  of  the  pen  encroached  on,  and  gradually  superseded,  that  of 
the  pencil.  His  contributions  to  the  annual  show,  fifty-four  in  all, 
though  ably  executed,  had  been  of  minor  attraction.  Latterly, 
cottages  are  his  favourite  subjects.  He  had  not,  however,  been  idle 
in  work  for  the  press,  and  a  series  of  books  of  small  figures,  chiefly 
designed  for  the  use  of  students  and  landscape  draftsmen,  whereof 
the  Microcosm,  already  mentioned,  was  the  first,  are  the  productions 
on  which  the  reputation  of  his  pencil  chiefly  rests.  The  following 
works  were  afterwards  published  by  him  in  succession,  viz. — '  The 
Costume  of  Great  Britain,  designed  engraved  and  written  by  W.  H. 
Pyne,'  imp.  4to,  Miller,  Albemarle  Street,  1808.  It  contains  sixty 
coloured  aquatints,  a  single  figure  or  group  only  on  each  plate,  the 
dresses  being  those  of  various  degrees,  from  a  dustman  to  a  peer  of 
the  realm.  It  is  the  seventh  volume  of  a  series  of  works  on  costume, 
the  others  being  of  China,  Turkey,  Russia,  and  Austria. — '  W.  H.  Pyne 
on  Rustic  Figures  in  Imitation  of  Chalk,'  4to,  Ackermann.  In  the 
preface  the  author  draws  a  contrast  between  the  study  of  drawing 
the  '  classic  or  elegant '  and  the  '  rustic '  figure,  the  former  being 
characterized  by  flowing  lines  and  studied  folds  of  drapery  con- 
forming to  the  limbs,  the  latter  demanding  more  abrupt  lines,  and 
the  draperies,  of  coarser  stuff,  giving  no  indication  of  the  wearer's 
shape.  And  he  announces  that,  '  to  facilitate  the  study  of  rustic 
figures,'  he  '  has  modelled  a  number  of  characters  selected  from  the 
English  peasantry,  on  a  scale  of  8  inches  in  height,  from  which 
plaster  casts  are  taken,  for  the  purpose  of  assisting  young  persons  in 
acquiring  the  art  of  grouping,  and  to  improve  them  in  the  study  of  light 
and  shadow.'  These  were  to  be  had  at  Ackermann's,  the  publisher. 
The  thirty-six  plates  in  this  work  appear  to  be  soft-ground  etchings, 

1  On  one  subsequent  occasion,  namely  in  1815,  Pyne  contributed  two  works  to  the  Spring 
Gardens  gallery,  but  not  as  a  member  of  the  Society. 


CH.  in  AT  SPRING   GARDENS,  1809-1812 


237 


helped  with  the  roulette,  chiefly  single  figures  for  drawing  copies,  in 
the  'slight  manner'  recommended.  They  are  dated  1813,  though 
the  title-page  (of  one  edition  at  least)  has  the  date  1817. — '  Etchings 
of  Rustic  Figures  for  the  Embellishment  of  Landscape.  By  W.  H.  Pyne, 
Author  of  the  "  Microcosm  of  Arts,"  &c.,'  imp.  8vo,  M.  A.  Nattali, 
23  Bedford  Street,  Covent  Garden.  This  work  contains  sixty  plates 
of  figures  and  groups,  boats,  carts,  &c.,  pure  hard-ground  etchings. 
They  are  dated  1814  and  1815.  An  edition  was  published  in 
1819. 

As  a  practical  artist  he  did  little  more,  though  he  continued  to 
labour  in  the  cause  of  art  till  a  late  period  of  his  life  as  a  writer 
and  conductor  of  works  for  the  press.  In  1819  was  also  published 
an  elaborate  work  in  three  royal  quarto  volumes  :  '  The  History  of  the 
Royal  Residences  of  Windsor  Castle,  St.  James's  Palace,  Carlton 
House,  Kensington  Palace,  Hampton  Court,  Buckingham  House, 
and  Frogmore."  It  was  illustrated  by  one  hundred  coloured  aquatints, 
to  which  Pyne  supplied  the  letterpress,  and  a  strong  group  of 
members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society1  provided  the  illustrations. 
Though  the  author  was  in  this  case  his  own  publisher,  the  book 
belongs  to  the  same  group  as  a  series  of  works  which  emanated  from 
Ackermann's  firm  during  the  first  quarter  of  the  century,  and  in  the 
projection  whereof  Pyne  is  said  to  have  borne  a  considerable  share.2 
They  will  be  referred  to  more  fully  by-and-by.  The  following  letter 
to  his  friend  Jerdan,  the  editor  of  the  Literary  Gazette,  referring  to 
the  progress  of  this  work,  is  characteristic  of  the  writer :  '  My  dear 
Sir, — 1  have  sent  some  account  of  Windsor,  which  I  request  you  to 
read  over  carefully.  I  have  marked  the  quotations  all  the  way. 
Please  make  what  alterations  you  may  think  necessary  in  the  pro- 
logue, which  is  vastly  modest.  I  had  written  something  for  Hampton 
Court,  but  determined  yesterday  afternoon  to  begin  with  the  beginning. 
So  all  that  I  had  gotten  for  the  Literary  Gazette  will  do  for  another 
occasion.  I  much  wish  to  see  you,  but  am  so  incessantly  engaged, 
being  on  the  very  point  of  finishing  my  work,  that  I  must  postpone 
that  pleasure  for  two  or  three  days.  I  have  written  out  some  sheets 
of  my  CROOKED  TELESCOPE,  which  I  am  Jack  ass  enough  to 

1  Wild,  Westall,  Pugin,  Mackenzie,  Nash,  and  Stephanoff,  were  among  the  draftsmen 
employed. 

2  There  is  a  plate  after  \V.  II.  Pyne  in  Ackermann's  History  of  the  University  of  Cam- 
bridge, 1815. 


238  THE   WATER-COLOUR    SOCIETY,   1805-1812  BK.  IV 

think  very  witty  and  very  pithy  and  very  original,  and,  in  short,  what 
you  cannot  attack  in  INK  POT  MALICE. 

'  Yours  very  faithfully, 

'  W.  H.  PYNE. 

'July  22,  1819. 
'  In  great  great  great  haste. 

'J.  JERDAN,  Esq.,  Upper  Queen's  Buildings,  Brompton.' 

This  particular  work  turned  out  to  be  a  disastrous  speculation, 
and  involved  him  in  difficulties  which  he  was  never  able  to  overcome.1 
He  afterwards  employed  his  pen  chiefly  as  a  journalist  and  critical 
writer  on  art.  As  a  gossiping  historian  of  the  earlier  days  of  the 
British  school,  he  handed  down  to  later  generations,  though  in  a 
desultory  fashion,  a  valuable  record,  derived  from  the  experience  of 
his  youth  and  the  current  hearsay  of  his  older  companions.  Adopt- 
ing the  nom  deplume  '  Ephraim  Hardcastle'  (citizen  and  drysalter), 
he  wrote  a  series  of  papers  in  the  Literary  Gazette,  which  were  after- 
wards collected  into  two  octavo  volumes,  and  published  by  Longman 
and  Co.,  in  1823,  under  the  title  Wine  and  Walnuts.  Then  came 
the  '  Somerset  House  Gazette ;  Weekly  Miscellany  of  Fine  Arts, 
Antiquities,  and  Literary  Chit-chat,'  the  first  number  of  which  was 
dated  II  October,  1823.  In  it  was  absorbed  in  the  following  February 
an  existing  paper  called  the  'Literary  Museum,'  and  it  came  out 
weekly  under  a  joint  title  until  No.  52,  dated  2nd  October,  1824. 
A  continuation  was  announced,  but  is  not  known  to  have  been  ever 
issued,  and  the  year's  work  now  fills  the  two  small-quarto  volumes 
which  there  has  been  such  frequent  occasion  to  quote  in  these  pages 
It  was  published  by  William  Wetton  in  Fleet  Street,  opposite  St. 
Dunstan's  Church.  Pyne,  who  edited  and  probably  wrote  most  of 
the  work,  already  announces  himself  in  the  first  number  as  one  of 
the  'virtuosi  greybeards.'  He  was  then  fifty-four,  and  he  lived 
twenty  years  longer,  contributing  to  other  publications  which  followed, 
namely,  Arnold's  'Library  of  the  Fine  Arts'  and  'Magazine  of  the 
Fine  Arts'  and  ' Fraser's  Magazine!'1  In  1825  he  published  his 
last  entire  book,  '  The  Twenty-ninth  of  May ;  Rare  Doings  at  the 
Restoration,  by  Ephraim  Hardcastle,'  2  vols.  8vo. 


1  He  had  announced  a  second  series,  to  be  called  '  Interior  Views  of  the  most  magnificent 
Seats  of  the  Nobility  and  Gentry  throughout  Great  Britain.'  See  Elmes's  Annals  of  the 
Fine  Arts  (1816). 

•  '  The  Greater  and  Lesser  Stars  of  Old  Pall  Mall '  is  the  title  of  his  last  paper  in  Fraser. 


CH.  in  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,  1809-1811  239 

Sad  to  relate,  Pyne's  '  latter  days '  were,  as  his  friend  John  Britton 
expressed  it,  '  clouded  by  misfortune.' l 

The  following  letter  to  '  W.  Jerdan  Esq.,  Grove  House,  Brompton,' 
bearing  the  postmark  of  /th  May,  1828,  was  written  from  the 
King's  Bench  prison,  and  speaks  for  itself:  '  My  dear  Sir, — Our  friend 
Mr.  Hunt  has  written  to  me  thus  :  "  Funds  are  ready  for  your  relief, 
and  if  Forty  pounds  will  extricate  you  that  sum  can  be  had  instanter." 
He  further  says,  "  I  am  to  say  how  and  when  the  issues  are  to  be 
made  "  etc.  I  have  written  to  say  that  a  sum  not  exceeding  five 
pounds  would  be  immediately  most  useful,  as  I  have  demands  upon 
me  here,  and  the  residue  will  be  no  less  beneficial  at  home,  as  I  left 
Mrs.  Pyne  destitute  of  means.  I  have  some  employment  which  will, 
I  believe,  secure  me  three  pounds  per  week,  so  that  I  trust  two 
pounds  weekly  from  you,  my  worthy  banker,  will  supply  the  wants  of 
myself  and  family.  This  place,  with  the  most  rigid  economy,  is  yet 
expensive.  Fortunately  I  have  obtained  a  room  to  myself,  in  which 
I  am  occupied  in  painting  and  drawing.  Had  I  not  found  a 
Samaritan  here,  in  Mr.  Hopwood,  late  a  sheriff's  officer,  I  know  not 
what  I  should  have  done.  He  kindly  advanced  me  the  needful,  and  I 
have  repaid  him  in  part.  I  shall  hope  to  have  occasion  therefore  to 
draw  upon  the  said  fund  of  4O/.  only  two  pounds  weekly.  This  gift, 
thus  spontaneously  bestowed  through  your  friendly  zeal,  I  receive 
with  thanks  indeed  !  I  feel  proud  in  thus  obtaining  it,  as  it  leads  me 
to  think  that  in  the  extremity  of  my  misfortune  I  have  not  lost  the 
esteem  of  good  men,  a  blessing  only  to  be  duly  estimated  by  one 
circumstanced  like  myself.  The  money  thus  obtained  will  enable 
me  to  go  through  the  necessary  ordeal  to  extricate  me.  I  did,  on  the 
receipt  of  Mr.  Hunt's  letter,  employ  my  attorney  to  give  notice  of  my 
taking  the  benefit  of  the  Insolvent  Act,  and  my  notice  is  signed  and 
delivered.  I  trust  that  I  shall  be  liberated  within  seven  weeks.  My 
attorney  has  engaged,  and  will  give  it  to  you  and  Mr.  Hunt  in 
writing,  to  do  the  whole  within  fifteen  pounds.  He  thinks  that  the 
sum  will  not  exceed  twelve.  So  that  I  hope  there  will  remain  some- 
thing at  the  period  of  my  liberation.  Once  more  then,  my  dear 
Jerdan,  I  thank  you,  and  remain,  as  ever,  Your  obliged  and  faithful 

servant, 

'W.  H.  PYNE. 

A  graphic  picture  of  poor  Pyne's  condition  some  half-dozen  years 

'  Britton's  Autobiography,  Part  II.  p.  183. 


240  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

later,  and  of  his  brave  struggling  against  evil  fortune,  is  given  in  the 
following  long  epistle  addressed  to  worthy  John  Britton  at  '  Burton 
Street  (or  Place),  Burton  Crescent,'  and  dated  'October  30,  1835.' 
The  writer  is  again  in  the  debtors'  prison,  though  he  gives  as  his 
address  '  32  Dudley  Grove,  Paddington.'  '  Dear  Sir, — I  take  the 
liberty  to  write  to  you  again,  in  conformity  with  that  I  said  in  my 
last,  and  feel  assured  you  will  read  what  I  shall  pen,  with  your 
accustomed  kindness.  I  write  without  reserve,  which  I  venture  to 
think  will  be  more  agreeable  to  you,  than  if  I  were  to  use  compli- 
ments and  flattery,  and  therefore  beg  to  observe  that  it  would  not 
surprise  me  if  you  were  to  entertain  an  opinion  that  a  man  of  talent 
with  suitable  industry  and  economy  might  contrive  in  such  an 
enlightened  age  as  the  present  to  obtain  a  living,  or  at  least  avoid 
getting  into  debt.  You  indeed,  and  I  say  it  in  honest  sincerity,  are 
amongst  those  who  might  be  forgiven  for  holding  such  an  opinion, 
because  it  must  be  pretty  generally  known  that  you  have  practised 
these  moral  virtues,  or  your  condition  would  not  be  so  favourable  as 
you  have  yourself  expressed  it  to  be — I  quote  from  your  own  con- 
fessions, on  reading  that  sketch  of  your  life  which  you  kindly 
presented  to  me. 

'  I  have  been  both  industrious  and  frugal,  and  yet  at  my  advanced 
period  of  life  I  have  nothing  left  of  that  private  fortune  which  ought 
perhaps,  with  more  foresight  than  I  ever  possessed,  to  have  maintained 
me  ;  but  I  entered  into  speculations  which  were  not  sufficiently  con- 
sidered, and  the  result  has  been  only  the  experience  of  varied  misfor- 
tune. I  have  indeed  exerted  my  capacity  to  avert  these  evils,  and 
have  as  worthy  a  wife,  and  two  daughters,  in  every  domestic  respect, 
as  ever  man  was  blessed  with,  and  yet  we  cannot,  or  at  least  have  not 
prospered.  I  trouble  you  with  these  statements,  lest  your  own 
honourable  career  should  lead  you  to  misgivings  as  to  my  prudence 
in  the  management  of  the  means  I  have  possessed.  But  should  you 
so  have  thought,  permit  me  to  say,  in  behalf  of  myself  and  family, 
that  we  have  mixed  as  little  in  the  gaieties  of  life  as  though  we  were 
of  the  persuasion  of  the  Quakers.  My  daughters,  though  accom- 
plished women,  were  never  at  a  public  ball  ;  we  have  never  been  at  any 
watering-place,  nor  at  any  other  [sic],  excepting  two  or  three  concerts. 
Never  together  at  any  play-house.  Have  faith  in  me,  moreover, 
though  I  should  desire  it  not  to  be  made  generally  known,  that  from 
the  time  of  my  reverses,  namely,  the  failure  of  my  work  on  the 


en.  in  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,  1809-1812  241 

Palaces,  I  have  not  purchased  one  single  bottle  of  wine — nor  owed  for 
one  directly  or  indirectly.  I  could  not  afford  to  drink  wine,  and  I 
would  not  go  into  debt  for  such  a  luxury.  More  than  this,  not  one 
shilling  has  been  owing  by  my  wife  or  daughters  for  dress  of  any  sort 
or  kind  ;  all  my  expenses  have  been  for  the  necessaries  of  life  in 
supporting  one  daughter  for  many  years  afflicted  with  the  tic  dolour eux, 
and  another,  a  widow,  and  her  son  (a  youth  now  dead),  and  the  mother 
engaged  with  the  partners  in  his  late  concern  in  a  chancery  suit,  not 
having  received  a  shilling  from  the  concern  from  the  time  of  his 
death,  now  more  than  twelve  years.  This  daughter  has  contributed 
to  our  means  by  going  out  as  a  governess,  and  the  house  which  I 
hold  on  lease  at  Dudley  Grove,  the  property  of  a  worthy  friend,  was 
taken  under  the  hope  of  my  two  daughters  being  enabled  to  establish 
a  day  school  for  young  ladies,  and  we  hope,  and  indeed  expect  it  will 
succeed.  Now  my  Dear  Sir,  the  drift  of  these  explanations  is,  to 
endeavour  to  shew  to  you  the  rectitude  of  our  little  family  compact, 
as  the  best,  and  only  warrantry  I  can  bring  before  you,  for  again 
asking  you  to  use  your  kind  offices  in  my  behalf,  knowing,  or  hearing 
at  least  that  there  is  to  be  a  meeting  of  the  worthy  gentlemen  who 
compose  the  Committee  of  the  Benevolent  Literary  Fund  Society, 
when  I  venture  to  solicit  a  renewal  of  your  benevolent  exertions  in 
my  behalf. 

'  I  have  lost  too  much  time  of  late  in  preparing  two  works. 
Indeed  I  have  bestowed  nearly  fourteen  months  upon  them  ;  the  one 
a  plan  for  teaching  the  polite  arts  and  sciences  by  the  aid  of  wood- 
cuts— the  other,  an  illustration  of  the  Holy  Bible.  I  have  submitted 
each  to  Messrs.  Longman  and  to  others,  who  have  expressed  their 
approval  of  their  originality  but  decline  engaging  to  take  them — 
entirely  in  consequence  of  the  probable  out-lay  for  so  extensive  a 
number  of  blocks.  Thus  I  have  been  diligent  as  it  were,  in  doing  of 
nothing.  I  hope,  however,  that  the  work  which  I  am  now  upon — I 
mean  the  graphic  Wine  and  Walnuts,  will  be  successful  ;  all  without 
exception  who  I  have  made  acquainted  with  the  plan,  urge  me  to  pro- 
ceed, upon  their  opinion  that  it  will  meet  with  very  extensive  support. 
It  has  pleased  God  to  bless  me  with  health,  and  as  I  believe  I  said 
before,  my  mental  en[ergies]  are  not  at  all  diminished,  and  I  hope  very 
soon  to  commence  upon  the  etching  of  two  plates  as  specimens.  I 
shall  adopt  your  advice,  and  publish  them  as  facsimiles  three  plates 
for  one  guinea,  and  the  twelve  celebrated  clubs  to  make  a  volume, 

R 


242  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

with  letter-press  historically  descriptive  of  each.  My  only  anxiety  is 
to  procure  some  little  funds  to  enable  me  to  begin  ;  and  I  have  the 
courage  to  believe  that,  once  set  a  going,  I  shall  obtain  a  good  sub- 
scription. The  worst  of  my  tale  is  yet  untold — for  I  am  at  this 
moment  a  prisoner  in  the  King's  Bench  ;  although  to  alleviate  my 
sorrow  I  have  a  room  to  myself  and,  by  the  goodness  of  the  Marshal, 
such  facilities,  as  will  enable  me  to  proceed  with  my  studies  undis- 
turbed. I  remain,  Dear  Sir,  your  obliged  friend  and  servant, 

•W.  H.  PYNE. 

'To  J.  Britton,  Esq.' 

These  sanguine  schemes,  it  need  hardly  be  said,  came  to  naught ; 
and  even  the  blessing  of  health,  which  he  so  piously  acknowledged, 
was  taken  from  him  ;  for  it  is  recorded  to  have  been  '  after  a  long  and 
depressing  illness  ' l  that  he  died  at  Paddington,  aged  seventy-four,  on 
the  very  anniversary  that  he  had  celebrated  in  his  last  book,  '  the 
29th  of  May,'  1843. 

A  subscription  had  been  raised  for  his  benefit,  to  which  Britton 
contributed  ;  and  in  his  last  year  (June  1842)  a  sum  of  2O/.  was 
voted  for  his  relief  by  the  Water-Colour  Society,  on  his  daughter's 
representation  that  he  was  'in  a  state  of  old  age,  incapacity,  and 
extreme  distress.1 

Another  member  who  deserted  the  Society  was  THOMAS  HEAPHY. 
He  resigned  just  at  the  end  of  the  above-mentioned  term,  namely,  on 
the  loth  of  February,  1812,  after  having  exhibited  from  five  to  thir- 
teen works  yearly  since  his  election,  making  forty  in  all.  They  had 
formed  a  distinct  feature  in  the  exhibitions,  and  their  value  stood 
high  in  the  market. 

'  We  have  a  distinct  recollection,'  says  Pyne,2 '  of  the  favourable 
impression  which  the  works  of  this  artist  wrought  upon  the  admirers 
of  water-colour  paintings.3  .  .  .  For  three  or  four  successive  seasons, 
the  high  prices  which  were  paid  for  his  novel  designs  were  sufficient 
proofs  of  public  approbation.'  This,  however,  he  regards  as  '  not 
entirely  complimentary  to  public  taste ;  for,'  says  he,  '  many  of  the 

1  Redgrave's  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 

*  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  194. 

'  The  writer  includes  the  '  first  opening  of  the  exhibition  in  Brook  Street.'  But  here  his 
memory  is  at  fault.  Heaphy  did  not  join  the  Society  until  they  had  left  their  first  quarters 
for  Pall  Mall. 


CH.  in  AT   SPRING   GARDENS,  1809-1812  243 

compositions  of  his  ingenious  hand  represented  scenes  in  low  life 
which,  although  depicted  with  great  observance  of  character  and 
truth  of  expression,  yet,  being  destitute  of  that  moral  point  which 
characterizes  the  works  of  the  incomparable  Hogarth,  were  disgusting 
to  good  feeling  and  repulsive  to  delicate  sentiment.'  But  he  cites  his 
water-colour  drawings  of  this  period  as  examples  of  brilliancy  and 
harmony  of  colouring  attainable  in  that  medium.1 

Heaphy's  contempt  of  '  academic  art '  was  not  reciprocated  by  its 
professors,  at  least  not  by  President  West,  who  expressed  his  great 
admiration  of  a  '  spirited  little  composition  '  by  this  artist,  called 
'  Boys  disputing  over  their  Day's  Sport,'  which  was  exhibited  in  Bond 
Street  in  1808;  and  the  encomium  being  spread  about  among  the 
crowd  of  persons  of  high  rank  who  were  present,  his  fame  was  at 
once  established.2  The  next  year,  1 809,  at  Spring  Gardens  his 
drawing  of  the  '  Fish  Market '  at  Hastings  was  also  highly  praised  by 
West,  who  said  of  it  to  Pyne, '  Sir,  the  subject  is  so  well  treated  in 
its  way,  the  expression  is  so  complete,  and  the  colouring  and  harmony 
are  so  pure  and  so  perfect  that  it  leaves  one  nothing  to  wish.' 3  This 
picture  has  been  considered  his  chef-tfceuvre,  and  it  was  bought  by 
Mr.  Wheeler  of  Gloucester  Place  for  four  or  five  hundred  guineas. 
The  titles  of  many  of  his  other  works,  such  as  '  Robbing  a  Market 
Girl,'  and  its  companion,  '  Young  Gamblers,'  1807  ;  '  Disappointment, 
or  the  Lease  refused,'  '  The  Poacher  alarmed,' '  Chiding  the  Favourite,' 
'The  Lout's  Reward,'  1808  ;'  Family  Doctress,'  1809  ;'  The  Proposal/ 
'  The  Mother's  Prayer,'  1810  ;  '  Scene  round  a  Fish  Tub,  Symptoms  of 
a  Broomstick  Wedding,'  'The  Happy  Meeting,'  1811;  and  others, 
seem  to  aim  at  a  kind  of  popularity  which  one  is  not  apt  to  associate 
with  the  highest  appreciation  of  art.  One  of  the  above,  the  '  Family 
Doctres?,'  is  possibly  the  drawing,  now  at  South  Kensington,  con- 
fessedly rechristened  '  The  Wounded  Leg.' 

After  his  success  with  the  '  Hastings  Fish  Market,'  the  sale  of 
Heaphy's  works  for  some  reason  declined,  and  his  pictures  remained 
on  his  hands.  In  1813  he  had  an  exhibition  of  them  at  the  old 
Academy  Rooms,  where  the  Society  had  been  located  in  the  first 
year  of  his  Associateship.  The  result  does  not  seem  to  have  been 
such  as  to  encourage  the  composition  of  more  subject-pieces,  for  he 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  114.  2  Ibid.  p.  194. 

1  Ibid.  '  Poor  West  used  to  overwhelm  young  men  with  flattery,  and   often  spoil  them." 
Memoir  of  Uwins,  ii.  114. 

K  2 


244  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

now  turned  his  attention  again  more  exclusively  to  portrait-painting, 
and  sought  a  more  promising  field  of  operations.  After  leaving  the 
Society,  he  accompanied  the  British  army  during  the  war  in  the 
Peninsula,  in  order  to  portray  the  chief  officers  engaged  therein.  He 
was  with  the  troops  during  most  of  the  operations  till  the  battle  of 
Toulouse,  and  at  the  close  of  the  war  returned  to  England  and 
painted  a  large  water-colour  picture  of  the  Duke  of  Wellington  and 
his  staff,  the  engraving  from  which  is  well  known.  In  February 
1821,  he  began  an  issue  in  numbers,  each  containing  six  heads  in 
black  and  white  chalk,  of  '  Studies  from  Nature  of  the  British 
Character,  consisting  of  soldiers  who  have  fought  under  the  Duke  of 
Wellington,  sailors,  and  rustics.'  ' 

He  afterwards  entered  into  some  building  speculations  in  the  then 
almost  uninhabited  district  of  St.  John's  Wood,  and  may  be  said  for 
some  years  to  have  nearly  relinquished  painting.  The  result  was 
what  might  have  been  expected.  On  resuming  the  brush,  while  yet 
in  the  prime  of  life,  he  exclaimed  with  grief,  '  My  power  has  gone 
from  me.'  But  he  did  not  abandon  art.  He  was  among  the 
originators  of  the  Society  of  British  Artists,  was  their  first  president 
in  1823,  and  exhibited  fourteen  works  at  their  gallery  in  Suffolk  Street. 
In  1831  he  joined  the  'New  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours' 
(now  the  Royal  Institute),  and  in  November  1835  departed  this  life. 
In  his  later  time  he  evinced  a  higher  appreciation  of  the  old  masters 
than  he  had  professed  in  his  youth,  by  the  earnestness  and  avidity 
with  which  he  made  copies  of  their  works  during  a  visit  he  then  paid 
to  Italy.2 

A  son  of  his,  T.  F.  Heaphy,  practised  art  as  an  original  painter 
and  as  a  picture  restorer,  and  was  the  author  of  several  books.3 

Thus  much  for  the  departed.  Among  the  artists  who  joined  the 
Society  in  the  latter  part  of  its  first  period,  were  one  or  two  whose 
names  are  ordinarily  used  to  indicate  its  golden  era.  Cox  and  De  Whit, 
and  Copley  Fielding,  were  indeed  made  Associates  before  the  close  of 
the  period,  and  De  Wint  was  for  one  year  a  full  Member.  But  Cox 
came  too  late  to  have  any  place  in  this  series  of  exhibitions,  and 

1  Ackermann's  Repository,  xi.  128. 

2  In  Ackermann's  Repository  for  February  1821  is  announced  'Studies  of  Character  and 
Expression  from  the  Old  Masters,'  by  Heaphy. 

3  There  is  an  account  of  him  and  them  in  Redgrave's  Dictionary  (and  edit.),  and  in 
the  Athenceum,  13  August,  1881  ;  see  also  Notes  and  Que,ie$,  6th  series,  iv.  508. 


CH.  in  AT   SPRING   GARDENS,  1809-1812  245 

De  Wint  and  Fielding  appear  only  in  three  out  of  four  of  those  held  at 
Spring  Gardens  during  the  period  in  question.  The  great  majority  of 
the  Associates  elected,  as  above  mentioned,  from  1809  to  1812  belong, 
as  before,  to  the  department  of  landscape,  two  only  being  figure- 
painters,  and  one  of  these,  Clennell,  elected  (like  Cox)  too  late  to 
exhibit  at  all.  But  the  names  of  De  Wint  and  Cox,  and  Clennell  also, 
were  already  before  the  public,  for  they  had  all  been  exhibiting  with 
success  in  the  rival  society  of  the  '  Associated  Artists." 

The  new  figure-painter  who  contributed  to  our  gallery  was 
THOMAS  UwiNS,  who  nearly  thirty  years  after  became  a  Royal 
Academician.  When  he  began  to  exhibit  with  the  Water-Colour 
Society,  in  1809,  he  was  a  man  of  twenty-seven,  known  as  a  graceful 
designer,  at  this  time  chiefly  employed  (by  J.  Walker  of  Paternoster 
Row,  and  others)  in  making  designs  for  book-illustration,1  of  the 
school  that  acknowledged  the  leadership  of  Stothard  ;  whom  he 
followed  without  imitating,  either  in  style  or  treatment.  He  drew 
the  very  pretty  faces2  and  figures  in  the  coloured  fashion-plates  of 
Ackermann's  Repository,  in  which  periodical  he  moreover  wrote  critical 
articles.  He  also  copied  pictures  for  engravers,3  a  practice  in  which 
many  of  our  best  painters  in  water-colours  found  profitable  employ- 
ment at  a  time  when  line  engraving  was  still  held  in  general  esteem 
as  a  living  art. 

Thomas  Uwins  was  the  fourth  and  youngest  child  of  a  clerk  in 
the  Bank  of  England,  who  bore  the  same  name,  and  lived  at  Hermes 
Hill,  Pentonville  ;  where  this  boy,  one  of  three,  was  born  on  the  24th 
of  February,  1782.  His  father's  calling,  and  the  classic  fitness  in  the 
appellation  of  his  own  birthplace,  may  lead  one  to  assume  that  he 
too  would  have  been  dedicated  to  the  shrine  of  commerce,  had  not  a 
capacity  for  art  been  found  within  him  on  a  timely  occasion.  This 
discovery  was  made  one  day  by  an  Italian  refugee,  who  taught  his 
sister  drawing.  Miss  Uwins  was  being  educated  for  a  teacher  of 

1  There  is  an   edition  of  the  works  of   'Peter  Pindar'  in  4  vols.    I2mo,    1809,  with 
vignettes  by  Uwins. 

2  Ackermann,  in  his  German  English,  called  them  Uwins's  '  britty  vaces,'  and  paid  for 
the  tinted  drawings  at  the  rate  of  half  a  crown  apiece.     The  artist  had  not  only  to  draw  but 
collect  the  dresses  he  depicted.     (Memoir  of  Uwins,  by  his  widow,  i.  23,  24,  46.) 

3  In  or  about  1810,  he  copied  in  Indian  ink,  for  Charles  Warren,  Barry's  big  painting  of 
the  '  Grecian   Harvest   Home '  at  the  Society  of  Arts,  thereby  relieving  Wilkie,  who  had 
undertaken   the  work,  but  left   it   for  his  own  natural  domain  of  art.     He  also  copied  in 
water-colours  Hilton's  '  Europa  '  in  Sir  John  Leicester's  gallery.     (Ibid.  p.  25.) 


246  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

young  ladies,  and  flower-painting  being  considered  the  most  profit- 
able branch  for  her  to  study  with  that  object,  some  '  copies '  of 
another  kind  which  the  master  had  with  him  when  he  came  to  give 
her  a  lesson,  chanced  to  fall  under  her  brother's  eye.  He  '  began  to 
look  over  them,  borrowed  a  pencil,  and  very  quietly  set  himself  to 
copy  the  limbs  and  faces  of  figures.'  The  drawing- master,  on  seeing 
what  the  boy  had  done,  was  '  greatly  surprised,'  and  told  his  mother 
that  '  this  child  ought  to  have  the  best  instruction,  and  would  most 
assuredly  excel  in  art.'  Tom  Uwins  was  then  about  nine,  and  had  to 
be  given  a  general  education  as  well.  So  he  was  sent,  with  his 
brothers,  for  six  years  to  Mr.  Crole's  academy  in  Queen's  Head  Lane, 
Islington.  But  his  mother,  who  seems  (after  the  nature  of  artists' 
mothers)  to  have  been  more  pleased  than  his  father  with  the  above 
prophecy,  took  care  to  get  him  some  instruction  in  drawing  at  the 
same  time,  not  only  in  the  class  there,  but  from  a  master  on  half- 
holidays.  The  teacher  so  employed  was  honest  enough  to  declare, 
after  six  months,  that  he  could  teach  him  nothing  more,  and  would 
not  rob  his  parents  by  pretending  to  do  so. 

In  1797,  when  he  was  fifteen,  Uwins  was  bound  apprentice,  at  a 
premium  of  100  guineas,  to  an  engraver,  one  Benjamin  Smith,  living 
in  Judd  Place,1  New  Road.  Smith,  though  himself  possessed  of  no 
great  talent,  had  some  good  engravers  as  pupils.  Among  them  were 
William  Holl  and  Henry  Meyer,  the  former  of  whom  was,  in  Uwins's 
time,  employed  as  an  assistant,  but  was  in  fact  the  chief  instructor. 
There  was  also  an  occasional  assistant,  called  R.  Syer,  from  whom 
Uwins  declared  that  he  '  learned  more  of  art  than  from  any  other 
person.'  Smith  was  then  doing  work,  or  getting  it  done,  for  Alder- 
man Boydell,  and  there  is  a  plate,  in  the  Shakspere  series,  of '  Richard 
surrendering  his  Crown  to  Bolingbroke,'  after  Mather  Brown,  which 
(having  been  begun  by  a  friend  and  fellow-pupil,  R.  C.  Roffe)  was 
finished  by  Uwins.  But  he  disliked  this  kind  of  work,  and,  worry- 
ing himself  over  it  into  an  attack  of  jaundice,  had  to  be  released 
after  one  year's  servitude;  when  he  exchanged  the  burin  for  the 
brush. 

While  at  Smith's,  he  had  diligently  practised  his  drawing  after  the 

daily  ten  hours  of  drudgery  there  were  over,  and  would  even  employ 

his  pencil  at  tea-time  in   sketching   the   cups   and   saucers.      It   is 

possible  that   now,  when    enabled   to   devote   himself  to   congenial 

1  The  number  was  21,  afterwards  changed  to  74. 


CH.  Ill  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,   1809-1812  247 

branches  of  art,  he  became  one  of  Simpson's  pupils  at  the  school 
in  Finsbury,  where  Heaphy  received  instruction.1  Like  his  alleged 
fellow-pupil,  he  too  became  afterwards  (in  1798)  a  student  at  the 
Royal  Academy.  And  now  again  the  careers  of  the  two  artists  were 
to  run  parallel  for  a  short  period  in  the  annals  of  the  Water-Colour 
Society,  where  Heaphy  was  Uwins's  proposer  as  an  Associate. 

While  at  the.  Academy,  Uwins  attended  Sir  Charles  Bell's  ana- 
tomical class,  and  his  drawings  of  the  muscles  were  much  praised 
for  their  truthfulness  by  that  eminent  surgeon,  himself  an  excellent 
artist.  He  had  begun  also  to  try  his  hand  at  likenesses  in  water- 
colours  when  he  was  quite  a  boy,  and  is  said  to  have  '  supported 
himself  by  miniature  portraits  and  by  teaching  before  he  was 
twenty.'  But  his  chief  delight  was  found  in  original  design. 

During  the  four  years  1809-1812,  Uwins  exhibited  at  the  Water- 
Colour  Society  forty-three  separate  drawings  (seven  of  them  being 
small  ones,  grouped  together,  more  than  one  in  a  frame).  Eight,  in 
1 8 1 1,  represented  scenes  from  Shakspere.  Others  were  illustrations  of 
Fielding,  Sterne,  &c.  Rural  industries  of  his  time  and  country,  hop 
and  fruit  pickers,  plaiters,  gleaners,  and  the  like,  supplied  him  with 
picturesque  figure  studies  and  groups,  that  made  up  nearly  all  the 
rest  of  his  contributions.  In  treating  subjects  of  the  latter  class  he 
showed  a  refinement  which  in  some  measure  associates  his  work  with, 
but  does  not  make  it  resemble,  that  of  Cristall,  who  was  beginning  to 
cultivate  a  like  field,  in  a  spirit  more  severely  classical. 

The  name  of  one  of  the  remaining  landscape  painters,  WILLIAM 
PAYNE,  recalls  an  earlier  age  of  the  present  history.  He  is  known 
to  the  reader  as  one  of  the  improvers  of  water-colour  drawing,  who 
helped  to  adapt  it  to  a  wider  range  of  landscape  than  had  come 
within  the  scope  of  the  old  topographers,  and  as  a  very  fashionable 
teacher  of  showy  ways  of  handling  the  brush,  and  contrasting  bright 
colours  with  the  tempering  aid  of  his  favourite  'grey.'  But  his 
practice  latterly  had  taken  a  downward  course.  Like  many  a  pro- 
mising painter,  having  once  secured  his  standing  in  the  profession, 
he  seems  to  have  attained  the  summit  of  his  ambition.  He  had 
ceased  to  be  a  student,  and  become  a  professor  with  a  settled  style  of 
painting,  to  which  nature  had  thenceforth  to  conform.  Content  to 
repeat  himself,  he  had  allowed  his  art  to  degenerate,  as  it  always 

'  See  supra,  p.  218,  n.  2. 


248  THE   WATER-COLOUR    SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

does  in  such  a  case.  His  painting,  which  had  depended  for  some 
of  its  attraction  upon  manual  dexterity  and  tricks  of  the  brush, 
became  absolute  mannerism.  He  was  surpassed  by  better  artists, 
and  forgotten  before  he  died. 

During  the  four  years  of  his  short  connexion  with  the  Water- 
Colour  Society,  he  remained  an  Associate  only  From  1809  to  1811 
he  had  five  drawings  each  year,  and  in  1812  he  had  two,  making 
seventeen  in  all.  They  were  nearly  all  views  in  Devon  and  Cornwall, 
with  three  or  four  in  Wales.  Often,  like  Glover,  he  specifies  the  time 
of  day  or  the  weather,  three  being  'moonlights.'  One  was  a  pro- 
fessed '  composition,'  and  another  represented  '  Banditti.'  The  South 
Kensington  Gallery  possesses  eight  of  his  drawings.1 

According  to  Graves,  Payne  exhibited,  between  1776  and  1830, 
ninety-one  works  :  seventeen  at  the  Society  of  Artists,  twenty-two 
at  th^  Royal  Academy,  fifty  at  the  British  Institution,  and  two  at 
Suffolk  Street.  The  dates  of  his  birth  and  death  have  not  been 
ascertained.2 

EDMUND  DORRELL  was  another  of  the  many  good  artists  who 
have  been  induced  by  a  natural  longing  to  take  up  the  brush  in  pre- 
ference to  the  occupations  designed  for  them  by  the  guardians  of  their 
youth.  He  was  brought  up  by  an  uncle,  who  intended  to  make  him 
a  doctor,  having  himself  a  good  medical  practice  at  Warwick,  where 
Dorrell  was  born  in  1778  ;  but  helped  him  to  be  a  painter  when  he 
discovered  his  bent.  Dorrell  had  begun  to  exhibit  at  the  Royal 
Academy  in  1807.  He  sent  thirty-nine  drawings  to  the  Water- 
Colour  Society's  four  exhibitions  (1809  to  1812)  at  Spring  Gardens; 
mostly  picturesque  landscape  subjects,  without  special  topographic 
interest.  Cottages  and  trees  and  river-banks  in  the  home  counties 
supplied  most  of  his  material.  With  them  there  were  one  or  two 
views  in  Monmouthshire,  and  sometimes  studies  of  cottage  children. 
His  drawings  are  very  pleasing,  but,  not  being  numerous,  are  not  often 
seen.  He  treated  his  subjects  with  an  artistic  eye  and  some  poetic 
feeling,  endowing  well-balanced  compositions  with  deep  and  warm 
tones  of  colour. 

1  There  is  a  drawing  by  Payne  at  the  British  Museum,  on  absorbent  paper,  with  dark 
trees,  powerful  in  colour. 

2  Some  speculations  as  to  the  identity  or  connexion  of  W.  Payne  (who  exhibited  at  R.A. 
1821-1822),  W.  R.  Payne,  jun.,  and  Matthew  Payne  of  Coventry,  are  in  Notes  and  Queries, 
6th  series,  i.  522,  ii.  277. 


CH.  ill  AT    SPRING    GARDENS,   1809-1812  249 

CHARLES  WILD  was  born  in  London  in  1781,  the  second  son  in 
a  large  family,1  and  was  therefore  about  twenty-eight  when  he  joined 
the  Society  as  an  Associate.  He  had  in  his  earlier  youth  been  articled 
to  Turner's  perspective-master,  Thomas  Malton,  and  from  the  first 
had  devoted  himself  to  architectural  subjects,  using  his  pen  and  pencil 
with  the  geometrical  rigour  of  a  professed  architect,  and  with  the 
same  neatness  of  detail.  This  minute  truthfulness  was  retained  when, 
becoming  more  of  a  painter,  he  gave  to  such  representations  the 
superadded  charm  of  pictorial  treatment,  with  refined  and  delicately 
harmonized  colour.  In  1803  he  began  to  exhibit  his  drawings  at  the 
Royal  Academy,  with  two  views  at  Christ  Church,  Oxford,  and  from 
that  year  to  1810  had  nine  drawings  there;  those  of  1805  being  of 
Westminster  Abbey,  and  those  of  1808  of  York  Cathedral.  From 
1809  to  1812,  he  brought  five  drawings  a  year  to  the  Society's  collec- 
tion. They  were  nearly  all  views  of  English  cathedrals,  of  which  he 
had,  some  years  before,  commenced  the  production  of  a  long  series  of 
engraved  illustrations,  that  continued  to  be  issued  for  many  years. 
Those  of  Canterbury,  York,  Chester,  and  Lichfield  were  published 
between  1807  and  1813.  Some  of  the  titles  of  Wild's  drawings  are 
accompanied  by  illustrative  verses,  which  indicate  a  poetic  treatment. 
His  '  Canterbury  '  has  its  pilgrims,  and  one  drawing,  of  1812, 'The 
Trial  of  Constance  de  Beverley,'  from  the  second  canto  of  Marmion, 
seems  even  to  have  belonged  to  the  class  of 'subject'  pictures. 

FREDERICK  NASH,  another  architectural  draftsman  of  great 
eminence,  was  in  his  line  a  most  accomplished  painter,  and  con- 
tributed largely  in  after  years  to  the  Society's  exhibitions.  He  joined 
it,  as  above  recorded,  a  year  after  the  accession  of  Wild,  whose  junior 
he  was  by  about  the  same  space  of  time.  He  was  already  in  good 
practice.  His  merits  as  a  draftsman  had  not  only  gained  him  employ- 
ment by  eminent  architects  of  the  day  (Sir  Robert  Smirke  among 
them,  from  whose  designs  he  made  drawings),  but  were  known  to  the 
public  by  divers  engraved  works. 

There  is  some  danger  of  confusion  between  three  successive 
Nashes,  of  no  known  kinship,  but  all  connected  with  architecture 
and  its  graphic  illustration.  There  was  John  Nash,  the  builder  and 
architect  already  mentioned,  Pugin's  friend  and  employer.  There 
was  Frederick  Nash,  now  before  us.  And  there  was  Joseph  Nash, 

1  He  was  nephew,  on  the  mother's  side,  of  Sir  Isaac  Herd,  Garter  King-at-Arms. 


2SO  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

another,  but  much  younger,  member  of  the  Society,  who  will  have  to 
be  dealt  with  by-and-by.  Our  present  subject,  the  elder  draftsman 
of  the  name,  was  the  son  of  a  respectable  builder  in  Lambeth,  and 
there  first  saw  the  light  on  the  28th  of  March,  1782.  He  was  the 
youngest  child  of  his  mother,  separated  in  age  from  the  rest  of  her 
offspring  by  an  interval  of  ten  years.  The  latter  circumstance,  added 
to  his  own  engaging  nature  as  a  child,  made  him  the  pet  of  the  family, 
among  whom  his  infantine  fancy  for  decorating  all  scraps  of  paper 
that  came  in  his  way  with  ships,  houses,  and  trees,  was  duly  recalled 
when  it  became  apparent  that,  tractable  on  most  subjects,  he  was  im- 
movable in  his  choice  of  a  profession.  In  after  life  he  admitted  that 
he  had  not  known  his  own  interest.  But  the  world  is  a  gainer  by  his 
want  of  that  knowledge.  He  thought  (and  there  are  precedents  in 
his  favour)  that  '  to  be  an  artist  was  greater  than  to  be  a  king.'  So, 
rejecting  the  offer  of  a  rich  relative  to  pay  all  costs  and  give  him  other 
advantages  if  he  would  only  be  a  lawyer,  he  clung  to  his  pencil,  and 
had  to  be  placed  with  an  architectural  draftsman.  His  master  was 
one  Moreton  (said  to  have  been  of  repute  at  the  time),  who  gave  him 
a  thorough  grounding  in  perspective.  Thence  he  entered  the  schools 
of  the  Academy  in  the  early  days  of  President  West,  and  at  the  age 
of  eighteen  exhibited  there  his  first  view  of  Westminster  Abbey,  the 
subject  of  some  of  his  finest  and  most  important  paintings.  This 
represented  the  '  North  Entrance.' 

During  the  next  ten  years  he  drew  for  the  engravers.  In 
Britton  and  Brayley's  voluminous  work,  The  Beauties  of  England  and 
Wales,  may  be  found  at  least  twenty  prints  after  drawings  by  F. 
Nash,  bearing  dates  of  publication  from  1801  to  1809.  In  1805  a 
series  of  aquatint  views,  exterior  and  interior,  by  him,  of  The  Collegiate 
Chapel  of  St.  George  at  Windsor,  was  published  with  explanatory 
letterpress.  When  engaged  in  preparing  this  work,  he  was  received 
by  King  George  the  Third  with  marked  kindness  and  condescension. 
'  There  is,'  says  Mr.  Maurice  B.  Adams,  '  a  thoroughness  of  purpose 
in  these  so-called  pre-Puginesque  works,  not  always  conspicuous  in 
our  own  contemporaneous  productions.' '  This  series  was  followed 
by  Twelve  Vie^vs  of  the  Antiquities  of  London,  '  for  the  illustration 
of  Lysons,  Pennant,  &c.,'  4to,  1805-1810.  He  also  exhibited  water- 
colour  drawings  at  the  Royal  Academy,  and  his  name  is  in  the  first 
volume  of  Britton's  Architectural  Antiquities,  published  in  1807,  as 
1  Paper  on  Architectural  Illustrations,  1877,  p.  7. 


CH.  ill  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,  1809-1812  251 

the  draftsman  of  five  of  the  plates  (one  of  the  Temple  Church  and 
four  of  Malmesbury  Abbey).  To  this  period  also  belongs  an  '  Inside 
View  of  King's  College  Chapel  in  Cambridge,'  engraved,  with  date 
4  May,  1808,  by  John  Byrne,  in  Britannia  Depicta,  Part  II. 

In  1808  he  was  an  exhibitor  with  the  Associated  Artists,  and  in 
j  809  a  Member  of  that  Society ;  contributing,  in  these  two  years, 
eight  drawings.  They  included  two  interiors  of  Westminster  Abbey, 
the  West  Front  of  St.  Paul's,  a  large  drawing  of  the  choir  of 
Canterbury  Cathedral,  and  several  ruins  in  Wales  and  the  North  of 
England.  In  1810  he  became,  instead,  a  contributor  to  the  old 
Society,  exhibiting  his  five  drawings  as  an  Associate.  In  181 1,  having 
become  a  Member,  he  sends  twenty-two,  followed  by  nine  in  1812. 
Some  were  called  'sketches,'  but  others  were  superb  and  highly 
finished  drawings.  They  included  subjects  from  London  and  the 
neighbourhood,  Westminster  Abbey,  the  Temple  Church  and  the 
Savoy  Chapel,  St.  Albans,  Eltham,  and  Windsor,  the  cathedrals  of 
Salisbury  and  Lincoln,  and  the  Yorkshire  abbeys  of  Fountains  and 
Kirkstall. 

Pyne  informs  us  that  one  of  the  drawings  exhibited  by  Nash  in 
1811,  an  '  Inside  of  Westminster  Abbey,  with  Funeral  Procession,' 
drew  forth  a  special  tribute  of  praise  from  Benjamin  West,  another 
instance  of  the  lively  interest  taken  by  that  kindly  President  of  the 
Academy  in  the  progress  of  the  water-colour  school.  He  took  it  as 
a  text  to  combat  the  dictum  of  an  amateur  that  '  such  subjects 
demanded  little  more  than  a  mere  mechanical  application  of  the 
executive  part  of  painting.'  '  It  is  true,'  said  West, '  that  an  accurate 
view  of  this  or  any  other  building  may  be  drawn  on  mechanical 
principles,  but  to  describe  the  scene  under  the  influence  of  this  grand 
and  pictorial  sentiment  is  as  much  an  affair  of  mind  as  to  represent 
nature  under  the  gorgeous  colouring  of  a  Titian.'1  This  drawing 
was  purchased  from  the  artist  by  Mr.  T.  T.  Wheeler,  of  the  New 
Road,  a  liberal  patron  of  water-colour  art,  for  I55/.  A  very  large 
and  fine  work,  46^  x  35  inches  in  size,  answering  to  the  above 
description,  was  lent  by  Mr.  Henry  Carr  for  exhibition  at  a  conversa- 
zione of  the  Royal  Water-Colour  Society  Art  Club  in  1886.  It  was 
well  preserved,  and  would  fully  justify  West's  encomium.  Other 
important  drawings  of  the  same  interior  were  made  by  Nash  at  later 
dates,  which  will  be  referred  to  in  due  course. 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  ii.  128. 


252  THE   WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

On  the  5th  of  May,  1807,  Nash  was  appointed  architectural  drafts- 
man to  the  Society  of  Antiquaries  ;  and  he  was  employed  in  work 
for  that  body  for  many  years. 

The  year  1810  also  introduces  to  us  the  distinguished  artists 
De  Wint  and  Copley  Fielding,  who  were  to  take  leading  parts  in  the 
achievements  of  the  Society  in  the  sunny  days  to  come. 

PETER  DE  WiNT,  as  his  name  implies,  was  of  Dutch  extraction. 
His  father  was  a  physician,  with  a  Leyden  degree,  practising  at  Stone 
in  Staffordshire.  His  ancestors  were  wealthy  merchants  of  Amster- 
dam. The  penultimate  generation  had  migrated  to  New  York, 
whence  our  artist's  father,  Henry  De  Wint,  a  second  son,  came  back 
to  Europe  for  medical  instruction,  with  an  allowance  of  3OO/.  a  year 
and  a  comfortable  prospect  of  marrying  a  cousin,  practising  the 
healing  art  in  America,  and  being  otherwise  well  provided  for.  All 
this  might  have  happened  had  not  the  young  man,  on  attaining  his 
majority,  chosen  to  fall  in  love  with  and  marry  a  lady  of  Scotch 
descent,  whose  British  blood  did  not  compensate,  in  his  parent's  eyes, 
for  her  slender  fortune.  One  result  of  this  imprudence  was  that  his 
father  disowned  him,  stopped  his  allowance,  and, dying  from  an  accident 
soon  after,  was  found  to  have  cut  him  off  with  a  shilling.  Another 
was,  that  he  remained  in  England  ;  and  thus  we  are  able  to  number 
among  our  most  cherished  native  artists  his  fourth  son,  Peter  De 
Wint,  who  was  born  at  Stone  aforesaid  on  the  2ist  day  of  January, 
1784. 

Peter  was  at  first  intended  for  his  father's  profession,  but,  evincing 
a  marked  predilection  for  graphic  art,  which  declared  itself  in  a  con- 
stant use  of  the  pencil,1  and  in  lonely  rambles  after  nature,  he  was 
allowed  to  learn  drawing  of  a  local  professor,  one  Rogers  of  Stafford, 
and  at  the  age  of  eighteen  to  abandon  a  study  of  the  healing  art,  upon 
which  he  had  unwillingly  entered,  and  go  to  London  as  a  resident 
pupil  of  John  Raphael  Smith.2  It  was  on  the  /th  of  June,  1802,  that 
the  indentures  were  signed  which  bound  him  'prentice  for  seven  years 

1  His  after  calling  as  an  instructor,  too,  was  foreshadowed  in  these  early  days  ;  for  he  not 
only  drew  himself,  but  taught  his  schoolfellows  to  do  the  same.  Thus  they  could  boast  in 
future  times  of  having  had  '  lessons  from  De  Wint '  (and  gratis !). 

'l  It  is  conjectured  by  Mr.  Armstrong  that  John  Raphael  Smith's  brother,  Thomas 
Correggio  Smith,  who  was  a  painter  of  miniatures  at  Uttoxeter,  may  have  been  the 
channel  through  which  this  connexion  was  brought  about.  (See  Memoir  of  Peter  De 
Wint. ) 


CH.  ill  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,   1809-1812  253 

•(phis  an  extra  year's  service  in  lieu  of  premium),  and  whereby  Smith 
engaged  to  teach  him  '  the  arts  and  mysteries  of  engraving  and 
portrait-painting.'  We  are  already  acquainted  with  the  name  of 
this  lively  mezzotint  engraver,  draftsman,  and  taker  of  likenesses  in 
crayons,  Morland's  gay  associate,  the  publisher  for  whom  Turner  and 
Girtin  coloured  prints  together  when  boys.  Those  days  were  old 
when  De  Wint  came  to  him  for  instruction.  The  acts  of  that  earlier 
generation  were  but  traditions  of  the  past  in  Smith's  studio.  Poor 
Morland's  reckless  career  was  virtually  ended.  That  same  year  1802 
saw  him  released  for  a  time  from  his  creditors,  but  utterly  broken,  to 
die  miserably,  again  a  captive,  after  two  sad  winters  more  had  flown.1 
In  the  same  year  Girtin  passed  away,  and  Turner  was  enrolled  an 
Academician.  Smith  himself  was  entering  his  last  decade.2  And  in 
the  same  year  the  little  partie  carrfe  in  George  Street,  Hanover 
Square,  were  already  discussing  the  prospects  of  their  art,  and  laying 
the  foundations  of  the  Society  which  our  young  student  was  destined 
so  richly  to  adorn. 

Among  the  young  artists  at  Raphael  Smith's  in  this  later  time 
was  William  Hilton,  afterwards  R.A.,  and  distinguished  among  the 
history  painters  for  his  high  aims  in  art.  We  all  know  his  '  Find- 
ing the  Body  of  Harold,'  in  the  National  collection.  He  was  junior 
to  De  Wint  by  more  than  two  years,  but  had  begun  his  studies  earlier, 
having  become  a  pupil  of  Smith's  in  1800.  He  bsgan  to  exhibit  at 
the  Academy  in  1803.  The  fields  of  art  afterwards  cultivated  by 
Hilton  and  De  Wint  were  about  as  widely  separate  as  they  could  well 
be  ;  but  their  amiable  natures  had  much  in  common,  and,  brought 
together  thus,  they  struck  up  a  mutual  friendship  which  united  them 
very  closely  ever  after.  While  at  Smith's  they  shewed  a  similarity 
in  taste,  or  rather  in  distaste,  in  their  preference  of  the  mystery  of 
painting  to  that  of  engraving,  and  the  master  had  the  good  sense  to 
humour  their  natural  predilection.  Being  an  ardent  fisherman,  he 
used  to  take  the  two  cronies  out  with  him  and  let  them  sketch  while 
he  indulged  in  his  sport.  This  was  at  any  rate  the  very  thing  to  suit 
De  Wint.  But  his  attachment  to  Hilton  on  one  occasion  brought 
about  less  amicable  relations  between  master  and  pupil.  Hilton  took 
upon  himself  to  play  truant  and  run  away  home,  and  De  Wint,  to 
whom  he  had  confided  his  intention,  declining  to  betray  him  by 

1  George  Morland  died  29  October,  1804,  aged  forty-one. 

2  John  Raphael  Smith  died  2  March,  1812,  in  his  sixtieth  year. 


254  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

declaring  whither  he  had  gone,  was  actually  clapped  into  prison,  like 
Girtin,  as  a  refractory  apprentice,  until  the  facts  had  otherwise 
transpired.  Smith  was,  however,  more  kindly  as  well  as  more  appre- 
ciative of  genius  than  Dayes  had  been  ;  for,  although  it  happened 
that  DeVVintwas  released  from  his  apprenticeship  before  its  time  had 
expired,  the  indentures  being  cancelled  for  a  valuable  consideration, 
the  terms  of  this  transaction  showed  how  highly  the  master  esteemed 
his  pupil's  work  as  an  artist.  It  was  on  the  lyth  of  May,  1806, 
that  young  De  Wint  purchased  his  freedom  under  an  agreement — 
which  he  faithfully  performed — to  paint  for  Smith  within  the  following 
two  years  eighteen  oil  pictures  (nine  in  each  year)  of  specified  sizes, 
varying  from  1 1  x  9  in.  to  2  ft.  3  in.  x  I  ft.  2  in. 

Hilton's  apprenticeship  ending  at  about  the  same  time,  the  two 
young  men  continued  to  pursue  together  their  careers  in  life.1  Before 
settling  in  a  joint  lodging,  however,  each  paid  a  visit  to  the  other's 
home.  Hilton's  father  was  a  portrait-painter  living  at  Lincoln,  and 
thither  they  first  repaired.  And  there  it  fell  out  that  De  Wint  fell 
in  love  at  the  same  time  with  Hilton's  sister  Harriet  and  with  their 
native  city  and  the  country  round  about  it.  Both  became  objects  of 
his  devotion  to  the  end  of  his  life. 

Then  he  travelled  to  his  father's  home  in  Staffordshire,  sketching 
on  the  way  the  High  Tor  at  Matlock,  ever  after  a  favourite  subject  of 
his;  and  Hilton  followed  soon  after.  It  was  in  the  autumn  of  1806 
that  the  two  took  up  their  quarters  in  Broad  Street,  Golden  Square. 
This,  it  will  be  recollected,  is  the  same  street  in  which  at  that  time 
resided  John  Varley,  and  De  Wint  is  known  to  have  derived  much 
benefit  from  gratuitous  counsel  and  instruction  in  landscape  art 
received  from  that  able  expert.  At  about  the  same  time  De  Wint 
was  received  by  Dr.  Monro  as  one  of  the  knot  of  students  who 
frequented  his  house  in  Adelphi  Terrace.  His  kind  host  is  said  to 
have  much  admired  his  sketches.  There  he  became  acquainted  with 
the  works  of  Girtin,  which  were  his  favourites  among  all  the  drawings 
in  the  Doctor's  collection.  And  there  he  probably  acquired  the  germ 
of  his  future  practice  as  a  water-colour  painter.  The  earliest  drawing 
known  to  the  writer  from  the  hand  of  De  Wint  is  a  sketch  at  South 
Kensington,  the  gift  of  the  artist's  daughter,  Mrs.  Tatlock,  called 
'  Tutbury  Castle,'  and  attributed  to  the  year  1805  or  1806.  In  it 

1  Mr.  Armstrong  finds  their  names  united  as  brother  recruits  in  the  '  St.  Margaret's  and 
St.  John's  Volunteer'  corps,  about  1805. 


CH.  Ill  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,  1809-1812  255 

the  influence  of  Girtin  is  so  strongly  marked  that  it  might  easily  be 
mistaken  for  a  work  by  that  master.1 

In  1807  De  Wint  is  first  found  exhibiting  at  the  Royal  Academy, 
where  he  has  two  views  in  Staffordshire,  one  being  of  Trentham,  and 
a  '  View  of  High  Torr,  Matlock,'  doubtless  from  his  sketch  in  the 
preceding  year.  He  must  have  been  much  occupied  at  this  time 
in  executing  his  commission  of  pictures  for  Raphael  Smith  ; 2  but, 
although  his  biographer  declares  that  '  his  strong  preference  was  for 
oils,'  he  seems  already  to  have  made  up  his  mind  to  rely  on  water- 
colour  art  for  his  living,  and  to  adopt  that  as  his  professed  branch 
of  painting. 

In  1808,  on  the  opening  of  the  gallery  of  the  Associated  Artists, 
he  sent  there  four  drawings  for  exhibition  ;  and  he  had  nine  there  in 
1809,  in  which  year  he  was  made  a  full  Member  of  that  body.  One 
of  his  drawings  in  1 808  was  a  view  of  Westminster  from  the  bridge  ; 
and  two  views  in  the  following  year  were  at  Lincoln.  These  drawings 
are  much  praised  by  a  contemporary  critic.  He  describes  them  as 
being  'of  the  very  first  class.  Correct  observation  of  nature,  fine 
selection  of  form,  with  the  greatest  truth  and  simplicity  of  colour,  are 
the  characteristics  of  his  style.  His  works  have  all  the  indications  of 
superior  thinking,  all  the  germs  of  greatness.' 3 

How  long  the  fellow-students  remained  in  Broad  Street  is  not 
clear.  De  Wint's  address,  as  given  in  the  catalogues  of  the  above 
exhibitions  for  1807  and  1808,  is  40  Windmill  Street,  Rathbone 
Place.  As  his  father  died  in  May  1807,  leaving  the  younger  children 
partly  dependent  on  Peter,  a  change  of  residence  may  then  have 
been  made.  But  wherever  he  was,  it  is  probable  that  Hilton  was 
there  also.  An  incident  which  occurred  in  February  1809  fixes  a 
date  when  at  least  they  were  together.  Hilton  was  ill  of  a  fever, 
and  his  friend,  while  running  for  a  doctor  (De  Wint,  a  nurse 
more  zealous  than  careful,  having  administered  to  the  patient 
vinegar  instead  of  drugs),  was  impeded  in  his  progress  by  the  fire 
that  destroyed  Drury  Lane  Theatre,  which  event  happened  on 
the  24th  of  that  month.  Hilton,  getting  better,  returned  home 
for  a  while,  and  De  Wint,  after  spending  the  summer  with  him 
at  Lincoln,  was  alone  for  a  few  months  in  Carburton  Street. 

1  In  the  Northern  Cambrian  Mountains,  folio,  1820,  Plate  35  is  a  coloured  aquatint  of 
'  Chirk  Castle  :  painted  by  De  Wint  from  a  sketch  by  T.  Girtin,'  engraved  by  T.  Fielding. 
*  Some  were  of  Lincoln.  '  depository  of  Arts,  i.  493  (1809). 


256  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

On  the  8th  of  March  in  the  same  year,  1809,  he  was  admitted  a 
student  at  the  Royal  Academy,  Hilton  having  entered  the  schools 
there  on  leaving  Smith's  in  1806.  In  the  autumn  they  again  put 
up  together  at  No.  93  Norton  Street,  Fitzroy  Square.  By  that  time 
a  demand  had  arisen  for  De  Wint's  drawings,  and  he  was  receiving 
many  commissions. 

It  was  on  the  I2th  of  February,  1810,  that  he  was  elected  an 
Associate  of  the  Water-Colour  Society,  and  on  the  i6th  of  June  in 
the  same  year  Miss  Hilton  became  his  sympathetic  partner  for  life. 
He  was  then  twenty-six  years  of  age.  His  marriage  did  not  separate 
him  from  his  old  companion,  now  his  brother-in-law,  who  lived  with 
the  married  couple  in  their  new  residence,  No.  10  Percy  Street,  for 
the  next  seventeen  years.  De  Wint  still  continued  to  study  at  the 
Academy,  and  was  admitted  to  the  Life  School  on  the  1 6th  of  March, 
1811.  But  in  his  profession  as  a  landscape-painter  he  was  now  well 
established,  and  on  the  roth  of  June  in  the  same  year  became  a  full 
Member  of  the  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours.  In  that  year 
his  wife  gave  birth  to  a  daughter,  their  only  child.  In  the  three 
years  1810-1812  he  exhibited  in  increasing  numbers — eighteen 
drawings  in  all — at  Spring  Gardens.  Of  these,  three  are  professedly 
views  at  Lincoln  (one  of  the  cathedral),  one  is  '  Conisborough  Castle, 
Yorkshire,'  and  nearly  all  the  rest,  if  not  described  simply  as  '  Land- 
scapes,' are  harvest  scenes.  It  was  in  a  similar  round  of  home  and 
rural  subjects  that  his  great  talents  were  displayed  year  by  year 
during  the  long  space  of  his  professional  life. 

It  is  probably  to  this  early  period  only  of  De  Wint's  career  that 
his  biographer's  account  must  be  taken  to  apply  which  records  that 
'  at  first  he  received  no  more  than  a  guinea  or  so  for  a  small  drawing, 
and  five  shillings  an  hour  for  lessons.' ' 

COPLEY  FIELDING  was  another  of  the  new  comers  who  entered 
the  fraternity  as  a  disciple,  though  not,  as  it  has  been  asserted,  a 
regular  pupil,  of  Varley's.  He  did  not  possess  the  originality  or 
native  talent  of  a  De  Wint ;  and  in  his  case  no  tales  are  told  of  an 
irresistible  penchant  for  art  that  overcame  all  opposition.  The  per- 
sistence required  on  his  part  was  only  what  the  task  demanded  of 
fostering  and  improving  such  natural  aptitude  as  he  was  found  to 
possess.  At  the  same  time,  his  great  success  and  deserved  popularity 

1  Armstrong's  Memoir  of  De  Wint,  p.  19. 


CH.  in  AT  SPRING   GARDENS,  1809-1812  257 

as  an  artist  were  due  in  no  small  degree  to  his  own  steadfastness  and 
perseverance.  He  seems  indeed  to  have  been  consecrated  to  art  in 
his  very  baptism.  The  names  that  his  godfathers  and  godmother  had 
bestowed  upon  him,  in  the  church  of  East  Sowerby,  '  Anthony 
Vandyke  Copley,'  high-sounding  though  they  were,  did  not,  it  is 
true,  exactly  foreshadow  the  line  of  art  to  which  he  afterwards 
devoted  himself.  The  last  is  a  testimony  to  his  father's  friend- 
ship for  John  Singleton  Copley,  R.A.,  the  distinguished  painter  of 
the  '  Death  of  Lord  Chatham '  &c.,  and  father  of  Lord  Chancellor 
Lyndhurst.  The  first  two  indicate  his  respect  for  one  of  the  greatest 
of  his  own  calling ;  for  Theodore  Nathan  Fielding,  at  the  time  of 
his  son  Copley's  birth,  was  in  practice  as  a  portrait  painter,  near 
Halifax  in  Yorkshire.  He  had,  however,  painted  landscapes  before 
he  took  to  portraiture.  He  had  four  sons,  at  least,  born  at  rather 
long  intervals,  all  of  whom  he  encouraged  in  the  use  of  the  pencil 
and  all  of  whom  became  successful  artists.  Of  these  Copley,  born 
on  the  22nd  of  November,  1787,  was  the  second.  His  elder  brother 
was  Theodore  Henry  Adolphus.  The  younger  ones  had  the  more 
manageable  names  of  Thales  and  Newton.  Their  mother  was  of  a 
respectable  family  in  Yorkshire  of  the  name  of  Barker. 

A  few  months  after  Copley's  birth,  Mr.  Fielding  removed,  with 
his  family,  to  London.  The  greater  part  of  the  lad's  time  was, 
nevertheless,  passed  in  the  country.  Even  in  infancy  he  had  been 
observed  to  be  sensitive  to  the  beauty  of  nature.  A  woody  bank  at 
one  time,  a  thunderstorm  at  another,  made  indelible  impressions  on 
his  mind  before  he  was  three  years  old.  The  walks,  through  fields, 
to  his  preparatory  school  at  Acton  were,  we  may  be  sure,  a  greater 
pleasure  to  him  than  they  would  have  been  to  an  ordinary  child  of 
five.  At  the  age  of  six,  he  chanced  to  see  a  pure  spring  bubbling 
from  under  a  stony  bank  with  overhanging  bushes,  and  the  vision  of 
it  kept  recurring  to  his  memory  for  years  after.  Yet  we  hear  of  none 
of  the  early  attempts  to  portray  such  objects  which  are  so  commonly 
recorded  in  the  lives  of  great  artists.  His  education  was  desultory, 
but  he  took  great  delight  in  reading. 

His  parents  do  not  appear  to  have  at  first  intended  him  for  an  artist. 
Indeed,  a  record  exists  of  his  having  actually  entered  upon  a  very  dif- 
ferent career.  In  a  Memoir  of  Thomas  Dodd, '  the  last  of  the  grand  school 
of  connoisseurs,' privately  printed  at  Liverpool  for  Joseph  Mayer,  F.S.A., 
in  1879,  it  is  related  that  Dodd,  when  an  engrossing  clerk  in  the 

s 


258  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

Enrolment  Office  of  the  Court  of  Chancery,  '  had  two  young  clerks 
under  him,  who  were  destined  to  become  famous.  They  were  the 
sons  of  an  old  painter  named  Fielding,  and  were  called  Copley 
and  Raffael.' '  It  was  not,  indeed,  until  Copley  arrived  at  his 
sixteenth  year,  when  his  father  went  to  reside  at  the  Lakes,  that  his 
future  profession  was  fixed.  There  the  family  established  themselves 
in  a  little  cottage  at  Ambleside,  and  afterwards  at  Keswick  ;  and 
there  Mr.  Fielding  did  his  best  to  promote  his  sons'  improvement  in 
the  art  of  landscape. 

His  own  qualifications  as  a  teacher  would  be  differently  estimated 
by  the  adherents  of  different  schools.  What  they  were  may  be 
partly  inferred  from  the  following  account  of  him  at  this  period,  from 
notes  written  by  the  Rev.  Mr.  Barker,  no  doubt  a  relation  of  Mrs. 
Fielding's  :  '  In  the  summer  of  1804,  the  father  of  Copley  Fielding 
was  a  lively,  active  man,  of  easy  access  and  agreeable  conversation, 
daily  at  the  easel,  painting  con  amore.  He  showed  his  pictures 
readily,  and  not  without  much  satisfaction.  Of  a  head  of  an  old  man, 
which  he  had  recently  painted,  and  which  had  elicited  some  admira- 
tion, he  said,  "  Yes,  they  call  me  the  English  Denner."  *  He  painted 
in  oil,  exclusively  I  think,  and  appeared  as  fond  of  landscape  as  of 
old  faces.  In  his  room  were  several  small  pictures,  chiefly  landscapes, 
painted  by  him  and  copied  by  his  sons.  Taking  up  one,  he  said, 
"Copley,  is  this  mine  or  yours  ?"  adding,  "  We  copy  each  other  so 
exactly,  it  is  difficult  to  know  which  is  which."  One  day,  on  going  in 
I  found  Mr.  Fielding  finishing  a  small  picture  in  oils  of  Keswick 
Lake.  In  the  sky  was  a  light  cloud  elaborately  painted,  and  principal 
in  effect.  He  joined  in  my  admiration  of  it  and  said,  pointing  to 
the  cloud,  "  It  would  take  a  touch  brighter,"  and  after  a  pause,  "  No,  I 
don't  know."  My  recollection  of  this  picture  is  that  it  was  laboured 
in  the  touch  throughout,  of  a  uniform  warmish  green  colour,  and 
wanted  aerial  hues,  and  consequently  space  and  distance.  Of  another 
small  picture  he  showed  me,  of  a  bluish  hue,  he  said,  "  I  was  deter- 
mined to  see  what  ultramarine  would  do."  In  colour  it  reminded  me 
a  little  of  Paul  Brill,  or  Velvet  Breughel.' 

1  Page  22.     Whether  '  Raffael '  was  a  fifth  artist  brother,  does  not  appear. 

2  The  reader  need  scarcely  be  told  that  Denner  is  usually  regarded  as  the  type  of  a  school 
of  imitative  painters  whose  highest  ambition  is  to  copy,  in  a  deceptive  manner,  the  very 
pores  of  the  skin.     Bryan  calls  him  a  '  laborious  painter,  whose  works  surprise  by  the  toil- 
some servility  of  their  finish,  as  much  as  they  disgust  by  a  total  absence  of  all  that  is  esti- 
mable in  the  art.'     Probably  Mr.  Fielding's  estimate  was  higher. 


CH.  in  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,   1809-1812  259 

But  the  father  provided  the  young  Fieldings  with  other  and 
better  models  than  his  own  paintings.  He  was  very  desirous  of  their 
improvement  in  the  art,  and  used  to  send  them  out  early  in  the 
morning  to  draw  from  nature.  '  They  don't  return,'  said  he,  '  till  the 
evening,  till  it  is  dark  ;  and  if  that  won't  do,  I  know  not  what  will.' 
The  lads,  however,  were  not  always  employed  with  the  brush,  as 
their  father  had  supposed,  from  morn  to  dewy  eve.  Sometimes  they 
had  with  them,  in  their  day's  ramble,  their  only  sister,  a  blooming 
girl  of  sixteen  or  so,  extremely  healthy  and  active,  as  well  as 
adventurous,  for  she  is  said  to  have  had  the  nerve  to  scramble  across 
the  well-known  mass  of  rock  that  is  wedged  over  the  chasm  of 
Dungeon  ghyll.  And  Copley  Fielding  related  in  after  years,  with 
much  sly  fun,  how  he  and  his  brothers  once  laboured  for  a  whole 
morning,  heaping  up  stones,  not  indeed,  as  Glover  did  in  Dovedale,1 
to  make  a  stream  more  paintable,  but  to  change  the  course  of  a 
waterfall,  when  they  knew  that  a  party  of  tourists  in  search  of  the 
picturesque  were  coming  to  admire  its  natural  beauty. 

The  Fieldings  had  for  a  neighbour  a  painter  whose  works  in 
water-colour  were  good  enough  to  exercise  a  salutary  influence  on 
their  art,  whether  it  did  or  not — namely,  Julius  Caesar  Ibbetson,  then 
living  at  the  retired  village  of  Troutbeck,  about  four  miles  from 
Ambleside,  with  his  second  wife,  whom  he  had  married  a  few  years 
before.  She,  at  least,  visited  the  Fieldings.  She  is  described  as 
young  and  handsome,  and  we  seem  to  be  familiar  with  her  dark  hair 
and  bright  complexion,  among  the  telling  rustic  groups  that  adorned 
her  husband's  later  landscapes.2 

It  was  during  this  residence  at  the  Lakes  that  the  bias  of  Copley 
Fielding's  mind  asserted  its  strength,  and  determined  his  lot  in  life. 
The  scenes  he  there  met  with  filled  him  with  delight.  But  for  some 
time  he  passed  his  days  on  the  lakes,  and  in  wanderings  over  rock 
and  mountain,  through  wood  and  through  valley,  storing  his  mind 

1  Vide  supra,  p.  196. 

2  Though  he  followed  the  old  tinted  method,  Ibbetson  was  an  effective  painter  in  water- 
colour,  delicate  in  touch,  though  firm  and  decided.     His  painting  in  oil  showed  some  resem- 
blance to  his  friend  Morland's,  and  to  that  of  Berghem,  whom  he  copied.     In   1803,  he 
published  the  first  and  only  part  of  An  Accidence  or  Gamut  in  Oil  and  Water-Colours,  the  first 
edition  of  which  he  illustrated  with  original  specimens,  apparently  painting  two  separate 
examples,  one  in   oils  and  one  in  water-colours,  for  each  copy  of  the  work,   of  different 
designs.     He  was  born  in  1759  and  died  in  1817.     His  reputation  has  suffered  from  associa- 
tion with  Morland's,  let  us  hope  on  no  better  ground  than  that  of  Thomas  Girtin.     Soma 
excellent  drawings  by  Ibbetson  were  in  the  late  Dr.  Percy's  collection. 

s  2 


260  THE   WATER-COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

with  impressions,  and  leading  a  kind  of  enchanted  life,  without  making 
any  serious  attempt  to  put  into  form  his  floating  ideas.  His  daughter 
declares  that  it  was  the  sight  and  study  at  this  time  of  some  of 
Wilson's  pictures  that  inspired  him  with  the  desire  to  be  an  artist. 
And  the  fact  accords  with  the  theory  that  Fielding's  success  in 
practice  did  not  arise  from  any  marked  originality  of  conception. 
From  this  study  of  Wilson  he  derived  great  benefit,  particularly 
from  a  copy  which  he  made  in  water-colours  of  'Apollo  and  the 
Seasons.'  '  They  assisted,'  writes  Miss  Fielding, '  '  in  forming  that 
correct  taste  which  could  only  be  satisfied  with  the  works  of  the  first 
Masters.' 

In  1807  he  accompanied  his  father  to  Liverpool,  and,  offering  his 
drawings  for  sale  there,  was  encouraged  by  an  amount  of  patronage 
which  he  always  referred  to  with  expressions  of  gratitude.2  In  1808 
he  made  a  tour  in  Wales,  by  Flint  and  the  Vale  of  Clwyd  to  Chester. 
But  a  visit  to  town  in  the  same  year,  to  see  the  exhibitions,  for  the 
first  time  opened  out  to  him  a  prospect  of  greater  advantage  than 
could  be  expected  at  Liverpool,  and  induced  him  to  settle  in  London 
in  the  autumn  of  1809.  There  he  enjoyed  the  great  benefit  of  assist- 
ance from  Varley  in  the  formation  of  his  artistic  style,  though  he 
never  was  an  actual  pupil,  as  it  has  been  asserted,  of  that  excellent 
artist's.  He '  came  to  town,'  writes  Cornelius  Varley,3 '  with  indifferent 
drawings,  and  received  most  free  instruction  and  advice,  as  a  friend,' 
from  John,  who,  we  know,  was  always  ready  and  willing  to  lend  a 
helping  hand  in  this  way  to  his  professional  brethren.  Of  Varley's 
genius  and  liberality,  Fielding  always  spoke  with  the  highest  com- 
mendation. In  order  to  be  near  him,  he  took  a  lodging  in  Wells 
Street.  Varley  was  then  living  in  Broad  Street,  Golden  Square.  He 
does  not  seem  to  have  been  sanguine  at  first  of  the  student's  success. 
Observing  the  slowness  with  which  the  young  man  imbibed  his 
principles,  Varley  was  even  induced,  it  is  said,  to  dissuade  him  from 
his  professional  pursuit.  But  Fielding  was  not  lightly  to  be  deterred 

1  MS. 

*  Carey  in  his  Letter  to  J.  A.  (28  April,  1809),  p.  19,  writes  from  Manchester  : '  Fielding  is 
here,  a  veteran  artist  whose  old  heads  in  the  manner  of  Denner  are  purchased  at  high  prices 
by  the  admirers  of  that  master.  ...  He  has  a  son,  a  young  artist  of  great  merit,  who  gives 
instructions  as  a  drawing  master  at  Liverpool.  I  do  not  know  him,  but  I  saw  at  the  house 
of  Mr.  Harrison,  a  merchant  of  that  town,  among  other  clever  drawings  by  young  Fielding, 
a  moonlight  view  of  Melrose  Abbey,  from  Walter  Scott's  Marmion,  in  which  there  was  a  very 
lovely  stillness  and  solemnity.' 

>  MS. 


CH.  Ill  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,   1809-1812  261 

from  treading  the  path  of  life  which  had  been  chalked  out  for  him. 
Varley  recommended  him  to  make  coloured  sketches  from  nature  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  London,  and  acting  upon  his  advice,  and  guided 
by  his  criticism,  he  by  the  end  of  that  year  had  acquired  proficiency 
enough  to  obtain  his  election  as  an  Associate  of  the  Water-Colour 
Society  in  January  1810.  In  the  season  that  followed,  he  exhibited 
his  first  five  drawings  at  Spring  Gardens,  most  of  them  views  in  the 
Lake  district. 

When  the  exhibition  closed,  he  went  into  Cumberland  to  study 
nature  and  visit  his  brother  Theodore  at  Penrith,  going  afterwards  to 
Carlisle  and  making  an  excursion  to  Haworth  Castle,  Lanercost 
Priory,  and  down  Tynedale  as  far  as  Hexham,  &c.  In  the  following 
month  he  made  a  tour  in  Scotland  — through  Dumfries  and  Selkirk 
to  Melrose  and  back  to  Carlisle.  Results  of  this  tour  were  seen  in 
the  exhibition  of  1811.  At  the  close  of  that  summer  he  went  to 
Liverpool,  and  paid  another  visit  to  Wales,  which  furnished  some  of 
his  subjects  of  1812.  He  was  then  on  the  threshold  of  the  more  im- 
portant period  of  his  career,  and  there  he  must  be  left,  in  order  that 
some  account  may  be  rendered  of  other  new  Associates,  with  names 
less  widely  known  in  the  present  day. 

WILLIAM  WESTALL,  who  was  elected  five  months  after  Fielding, 
contributed  only  twelve  drawings  (in  1811  and  1812)  to  the  Society's 
exhibitions,  and  but  a  third  of  these  belong  to  the  branch  of  art  which 
he  specially  represented.  His  experience  had  been  of  no  ordinary 
kind.  He  was  a  younger  brother,  by  no  less  than  sixteen  years,  of 
Richard  Westall,  R. A.,  whose  leading  position  in  the  figure  school  has 
been  above  recorded,  and  from  whom  he  had  received  his  early  in- 
struction. But  his  own  practice  had  been  in  a  very  different  and 
much  wider  field.  He  had  been  a  great  traveller,  and  the  labours  by 
which  he  was  distinguished  give  him  an  important  place  in  the  line  of 
topographic  artists  whose  mission  it  was  to  portray  distant  parts  of 
the  earth's  surface.  While  his  brother  draftsmen  were  devoting  their 
energies  to  the  better  cultivation  of  the  art  itself  by  continued  practice 
at  home,  by  repeating  under  varied  aspects  the  selfsame  views 
among  their  Welsh  mountains,  and  studying  again  and  again  familia'r 
scenes  of  native  life  and  landscape,  Westall  had  been  bringing  new 
material  within  the  range  of  its  application. 

He  was  born  on  the  I2th  of  October,  1781,  at  Hertford,  whither 


262  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

his  parents  had  removed  from  Norwich,  to  which  city  the  family 
belonged.  His  early  years  were  spent  still  nearer  London,  at  Syden- 
ham  and  Hampstcad.  His  passion  for  art  was  displayed  when  he 
was  very  young,  and  he  would  play  truant  from  school  to  sketch  from 
nature.  He  was  under  nineteen,  a  probationer  at  the  Royal  Academy, 
when  President  West  picked  him  cut  as  fit  fora  Government  appoint- 
ment as  landscape  draftsman  to  a  discovery  ship  about  to  sail  for 
what  geographers  called  '  Terra  Australis,'  and  less  classic  linguists 
'  the  fifth  quarter  of  the  globe.' '  Thenceforth  much  of  his  life  had 
been  passed  in  perilous  adventure.  Embarking  in  H.M.S.  Investigator, 
Commander  Flinders,  which  sailed  from  Spithead  on  the  1 8th  of  July, 
1801,  he  soon  had  an  opportunity  of  plying  his  pencil.  Landing  at 
Madeira,  a  scientific  party  explored  the  interior,  and  Westall,  going 
with  them,  made  many  sketches  of  the  scenery.  On  their  return  to 
the  ship,  however,  the  native  boatmen  upset  them  into  the  surf,  and 
besides  losing  all  the  fruits  of  his  toil,  our  artist  was  nearly  drowned. 
Next  he  was  struck  down  and  again  brought  to  death's  door  by  a 
coup  de  soleil.  For  two  years  the  ship  continued  her  cruise,  and  then 
she  was  found  to  be  unseaworthy  and  left  at  Port  Jackson  ;  Westall 
and  most  of  the  voyagers  being  transferred  to  H.M.S.  Porpoise,  which, 
instead  of  bringing  them  safely  back  to  England,  deposited  them  on 
a  small  coral  reef  in  the  Pacific,  whence  they  were  rescued  after  a 
lapse  of  eight  weeks.  Westall,  who  had  happily  saved  most  of  his 
drawings,  was  carried  off  to  China  by  the  good  ship  Rolla,  and  re- 
mained some  months  at  Canton,  sketching  there  and  up  the  river 
memoranda  of  the  scenery  and  its  celestial  inhabitants.  Thence  he 
sailed  to  Bombay,  where  he  was  the  first  to  contradict  a  report  that 
he  and  his  shipwrecked  companions  had  perished  on  their  reef. 

Since  Westall  had  left  England,  the  short  peace  with  France  had 
come  and  gone  ;  and  he  chanced  to  be  an  eye-witness  of  the  first 
naval  success  of  the  new  war.  For  the  ship  2  in  which  he  had  set 
sail  from  China  was  one  of  the  fleet  of  merchantmen  with  which  the 
gallant  Commodore  Dance,  of  the  East  India  Company's  service,  beat 

1  William  Daniell,  afterwards  R.A.,  had  been  first  appointed,  but,  becoming  engaged  to 
be  married  to  Westall's  eldest  sister,   preferred  to  stay  at  home.     Probably  he,  as  well  as 
West,  had  a  voice  in  the  selection  of  the  substitute. 

2  As  Lieut.  Fowler,  R.N. ,  who  had  commanded  the  ill-fated  Porpoise,  and  was  of  great 
service  in  this  action,  had  embarked  as  a  passenger  in  Dance's  ship,  the  Earl  Camdcn,  it  is 
probable  that  Westall  was  with  him  in  that  vessel.     The  Rolla  had  also  been  put  under  Dance's 
charge,  to  convoy,  but  had  somehow  got  left  behind  at   Macao.     (See  Annual  Register, 
PP-  5Si,  552- ) 


CH.  II!  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,  1809-1812  263 

off  and  pursued  a  French  squadron  under  Admiral  Linois,  in  the 
Straits  of  Malacca,  on  the  i$th  of  February,  1804.  The  good  will  of 
the  Duke  of  Wellington  (then  commanding  in  India  as  Sir  Arthur 
Wellesley)  enabled  our  artist  to  explore  the  mountains  of  the 
Mahratta  country  ;  and  among  those  of  the  Boa  Ghaut  he  fell  in 
with  the  victorious  Indian  army,  that  had  fought  the  battle  of  Assay  e 
in  the  preceding  September.  He  also  visited  the  temples  of  Kurlee 
and  Elephanta,  and  other  places  of  interest,  of  which  he  made  careful 
drawings  on  the  spot. 

During  his  travels  in  India,  Westall  was  appalled  by  sufferings 
which  met  his  eye,  the  effects  of  famine  and  drought.  His  son  tells 
us  that '  he  was  always  much  affected  when  alluding,  in  after  life,  to 
the  horrors  he  here  beheld,'  and  relates  at  'the  same  time  an  anecdote 
which  exemplifies  his  kindness  of  heart.1  One  of  his  servants,  having 
taken  advantage  of  the  utter  destitution  of  a  native  family,  had,  as  a 
slave  speculation,  purchased  an  only  remaining  son  for  little  more 
than  a  meal  and  a  few  pounds  of  rice.  Westall,  shocked  and 
disgusted  with  the  sordid  cruelty  of  the  transaction,  watched  his 
opportunity,  and  when  he  had  to  cross  from  the  coast  to  Bombay 
island,  the  servants  and  baggage  being  aboard,  and  he  and  the  new 
slave  alone  remaining  ashore  to  be  conveyed  to  the  vessel,  slipped 
some  money  into  the  young  man's  hand,  and  silently  pointed  to  his 
native  mountains.  The  youth  'threw  himself  on  the  ground  and 
kissed  his  benefactor's  feet,  then  with  the  swiftness  of  a  deer  darted 
towards  his  home,  and  was  out  of  sight  in  a  few  minutes,'  leaving  the 
discomfited  servant '  lamenting  '  (like  my  Lord  Ullin)  on  the  vessel's 
deck. 

At  Bombay,  Westall  received  kind  attentions  from  Sir  James 
Mackintosh,  then  residing  there  as  Recorder,  and  in  return  gave  his 
daughter  lessons  in  drawing.  He  described  Sir  James  as  suffering 
from  nostalgia.  He  himself  too  had  a  mind  to  see  his  own  land 
again.  He  had  left  home,  a  lad,  before  Girtin  went  to  Paris.  Now 
he  had  grown  to  man's  estate,  and,  returning  to  England,  found  a 
new  page  open  in  the  annals  of  his  profession.  The  Water-Colour 
Society  was  formed,  and  blossoming  in  its  first  exhibition. 

But  Westall  could  not  settle  down  so  soon  to  home  work.  The 
taste  for  travel  was  yet  upon  him,  and  off  he  went  to  Madeira  in  1805, 

1  Art  Journal,  Memoir  of  Wm.  Westall,  A.R.A.  (l  April,  1850,  p.  104),  from  which 
most  of  the  above  account  is  derived. 


264  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK  iv 

to  pass  a  year  there  in  great  enjoyment,  and  make  up  in  new  sketches 
the  loss  of  his  first  portfolio  ;  receiving  there  much  kindness  from 
the  British  residents,  and,  by  painting  the  houses  of  planters  and 
merchants,  raising  a  sufficient  fund  to  enable  him  to  cross  the 
Atlantic  and  complete  his  collection  of  drawings  with  a  large  number 
of  sketches  made  during  a  few  further  months  in  Jamaica. 

Returning  to  England  once  more,  he  set  to  work  to  make  pictures 
out  of  the  materials  he  had  collected  in  the  two  hemispheres ;  and  in 
1 808  opened  an  exhibition  of  his  own,  in  Brook  Street,  of  water- 
colour  drawings  of  the  scenes  and  places  he  had  visited.  It  did  not 
however,  arouse  the  expected  interest,  and  Westall  had  to  fall  back 
upon  home  scenes,  in  which  he  had  to  compete  with  artists  to  whom 
they  were  more  familiar. 

He  joined  the  '  Associated  Artists '  in  water-colours  as  an  exhibit- 
ing Member  in  1808  and  1809.  In  the  first  of  these  years  he  had 
ten  works  in  their  gallery,  all  foreign  views.  In  the  second  he  had 
fifteen,  whereof  the  greater  number  were  home  subjects,  from 
Worcestershire  and  the  Wye.  His  works  of  the  former  class  are 
favourably  noticed  at  some  length  in  John  Landseer's  Review  of 
Publications  in  Art  (1808),  but  the  latter  called  forth  the  remark  of  a 
contemporary  critic  that  the  artist's  unsuccessful  delineations  of 
English  scenery  had  shaken  previous  belief  in  the  truth  of  his 
foreign  views.1  He  was  now,  however,  obtaining  commissions  to 
paint  oil  pictures,  and,  on  the  ground  that  his  time  was  so  occupied,  he 
sent  in  his  resignation  on  the  2/th  of  June,  1809.  Nevertheless  he 
became  an  Associate  of  the  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours  on 
the  nth  of  June,  1810.  With  his  few  drawings  at  Spring  Gardens  of 
views  in  China,  Madeira,  and  New  South  Wales,  were  some  of  the 
London  Thames  and  Rievaulx  Abbey. 

He  had  only  now  begun  to  prepare  for  publication  the  set  of 
drawings  made  during  the  ill-fated  voyage  of  discovery ;  the  history 
as  well  as  the  completion  of  which  had  been  delayed  by  adverse  fate. 
Long  and  far  as  our  artist  had  wandered,  after  his  rescue  from  the 
coral  reef,  he  had  got  back  to  England  years  before  his  less  fortunate 
commander.  Flinders  was  picked  up  by  a  small  schooner,  the  Cumber- 
land, and  on  the  way  home,  while  his  brave  lieutenant  was  fighting 
the  French  with  such  success  in  the  Malacca  Strait,  was  captured 
by  the  enemy ;  and  he  was  detained  in  a  long  and  cruel  confinement 

1  Ackermann's  Repository,  \.  493. 


CH.  in  AT   SPRING    GARDENS,  1809-1812  265 

in  the  island  of  Mauritius.  He  did  not  arrive  in  England  until  the 
very  year  1810  when  Westall  joined  the  Water-Colour  Society,  and 
the  book  of  travels  was  not  published  until  after  that  artist's  connexion 
with  the  Society  had  ceased. 

The  name  of  WILLIAM  SCOTT,  though  he  was  a  competent 
painter,  and  long  an  exhibitor  with  the  Society,  has  left  no  strong 
mark  in  its  annals.  Scarcely  anything  has  been  recorded  of  his  per- 
sonal history,  and  the  dates  of  his  birth  and  death  are  alike  unknown. 
Even  the  industrious  Redgrave  tells  us  less  than  we  gather  from  the 
catalogues.  His  home  was  Brighton,  whence,  says  that  writer,  he 
seldom  strayed  abroad  ;  and  '  home  scenery  and  cottages  of  Sussex 
and  Surrey '  were  the  class  of  subjects  which  introduced  him  to  our 
gallery  in  181 1.  He  then  brought  five  drawings.  The  next  year  he 
had  three,  two  of  which  were  from  Edinburgh.  In  the  catalogue  for 
the  latter  year,  a  work  by  him  is  advertized,  with  the  title  '  Six 
Etchings  on  Stone,  printed  on  brown  crayon  paper  and  retouched 
with  white,  to  imitate  drawings  in  black  and  white  chalk,'  to  be  had 
of  P.  S.  Munn,  New  Bond  Street,  and  of  other  '  persons  in  London ' 
therein  named. 

As  the  three  Associates,  Charles  Barber,  Luke  Clennell,  and, 
lastly  not  least,  David  Cox,  were  not  elected  until  after  the  close  of 
the  exhibition  of  1812,  their  names  do  not  virtually  belong  to  the 
period  of  the  Society's  annals  which  this  year  brought  to  an  end. 
More  special  notice  of  them  will  therefore  be  reserved  for  its  proper 
place  in  the  chronicle  of  the  succeeding  period,  when  their  names 
and  works  are  first  recorded  in  the  exhibition  catalogue.  The 
election  at  the  same  time,  namely  on  the  8th  of  June,  1812,  of  Wild 
and  Pugin  as  full  Members,  was,  as  it  turned  out,  little  more  than 
nominal,  by  reason  of  important  events  which  have  now  to  be  related. 


266 


THE   WATER-COLOUR    SOCIETY,  1805-1812 


BK.  IV 


CHAPTER    IV 

FALL  OF   THE   FIRST   SOCIETY 

Statistics — Decline  of  prosperity — Further  history  of  '  Associated  Artists  ' — Their  decline 
and  fall— Proposal  to  extend  the  Society — Its  dissolution— Final  biographies  of  retiring 
Members—  Wells— Rigaud—  Reinagle—  C/talan—The  '  Sketching  Society '—  Westall. 

IT  has  now  to  be  explained  why  this  particular  epoch  of  1812  has 
been  selected  to  terminate  the  first  stage  of  our  Society's  history. 
For  this  purpose  recourse  must  be  had  to  the  minute-books  of  the 
committee  and  general  meetings  during  that  period.  The  following 
schedule  compiled  therefrom  will  exhibit  at  a  glance  the  progress 
of  the  Society,  considered  purely  as  a  business  undertaking,  from 
its  first  exhibition  in  1805  to  that  of  1812. 


Year 

Members 

Asso- 
ciates 

Drawings 

Admissions 
on  payment 

Members'  valuations 

Surplus  divided 

£        '•       d. 

£      s.      d. 

1805 

16 

_ 

275 

11,542- 

2,860    o    o 

270  19    o 

1806 

16 

8 

301 

12,439 

Return  wanting 

440    3    o 

1807 

18 

8 

324 

14,366 

4,380     i     o 

47i    7  i°i 

1808 

19 

7 

334 

18,999 

5,787     i     6 

445  14     8 

1809 

20 

7 

34' 

22,967 

5,222      5      0 

626    6  ill 

1810 

22 

8 

328 

20,030 

4,807  17     o 

480  14    o 

1811 

24 

8 

369 

19,067 

6,610  15    6 

523    7     5 

1812 

25 

6 

341 

10,624 

4,498  ii     6 

121  18    4 

It  appears  by  this  statement  that  until  1810  there  had  been 
a  satisfactory  improvement  in  the  Society's  position  almost  year  by 
year.  The  public  had  been  attracted  in  constantly  increasing 
numbers.  Artists  who  had  held  aloof  while  success  appeared 
doubtful  had  eagerly  sought  admission  when  the  permanence  of  the 
Society  seemed  assured,  with  a  growing  surplus  to  be  distributed  at 
the  close  of  each  season  rateably  on  the  sum  each  Member  set  upon 
his  works.  In  1809,  when  the  Society  moved  to  Spring  Gardens, 
this  prosperity  was  at  its  height.  The  number  of  paid  admissions 

1  Approximately. 


CH.  iv  FALL   OF    THE    FIRST   SOCIETY  267 

had  risen  to  nearly  23,000,  and  every  Member  received  a  profit  little 
under  12  per  cent,  upon  the  price  he  had  assigned  to  his  contribu- 
tions. Heaphy  in  that  year  came  in  for  as  much  as  I3O/.,  Glover 
IO4/.,  and  the  rest  in  due  proportion.  No  one  seems  to  have 
questioned  the  prudence  of  so  dividing  the  whole  of  the  profits, 
though  this  practice  proved  in  the  end  a  source  of  danger  that 
threatened  the  existence  of  the  Society.  Successful  beyond  their 
expectations,  they  hardly  contemplated  future  reverses  or  the 
difficulties  they  had  to  encounter,  which  a  wise  reserve  of  their 
funds  might  have  been  the  means  of  averting.  But  after  this  year 
there  came  a  turn  of  the  tide.  Patronage,  with  its  attendant  profits, 
began  from  that  time  to  diminish,  and  in  1812  there  was  a  sudden 
and  serious  drop  to  a  lower  level  in  both  respects  than  that  at  which 
the  Society  had  ever  stood.  It  was  plainly  suffering  from  a  general 
depression  of  the  times,  which  told  with  peculiar  severity  on  the 
artists'  craft.  The  renewed  contest  with  France  had  strained  the 
resources  of  the  wealthy,  and  public  attention  was  now  absorbed  in 
the  events  of  the  Peninsular  War. 

When  the  account  was  taken  after  the  close  of  that  year's  ex- 
hibition, the  balance  of  profit  was  found  to  be  so  small  as  to  excite 
reasonable  apprehension  of  a  future  loss.  On  Thursday,  the  5th  of 
November,  1812,  the  Society  met  at  Hills's  house  to  take  this  state 
of  things  into  consideration,  and  discuss  the  prospects  of  the  en- 
suing season.  According  to  an  estimate  then  made,  it  did  not 
appear  likely  that  more  than  230  drawings  would  be  forthcoming 
for  the  next  show,  a  number  less  by  nearly  a  third  than  had  been 
exhibited  in  the  preceding  spring.  It  was  evident  that  a  serious 
crisis  had  arrived  in  the  Society's  affairs. 

The  Members,  moreover,  could  not  disregard  the  warning  which 
had  been  given  by  recent  events  outside  their  Society.  Their  rivals 
in  Bond  Street  had  been  in  still  greater  trouble.  The  Associated 
Artists  had  fairly  broken  down  under  its  weight,  and  ended  their 
career  in  disaster.  The  remaining  chief  facts  of  their  history  may 
here  be  entered  on  the  record. 

During  the  period  now  concluded  the  two  Water-Colour  Exhibi- 
tions, at  Spring  Gardens  and  in  Bond  Street,  had  come  to  be  regarded 
as  concurrent  annual  sights  of  the  London  season.  The  Associated 
Artists  had  removed  from  Brook  Street  to  1 10  New  Bond  Street  in 


268  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

1809.  From  1810  to  1812  they  were  at  16  Old  Bond  Street.    Before 
the  second  exhibition  (in  1809)  they  lost  four  Members  :    H.  P.  Bone, 
Alfred   E.  Chalon,   Miss   Emma  Smith,   and    H.   W.   Watts.      Their 
places  were,  for  the  time,  well  supplied  by  P.   De  Wint,  J.  Holmes, 
Frederick   Nash,  and  J.  Clarendon    Smith.     Before  the  exhibition   of 

1810,  however,  De  Wint,  Nash,  and  Westall  seceded  to  join  the  older 
Society,  and  J.  B.  Papworth,  W.  J.  Thompson,  and   H.  W.  Williams 
also  ceased  to  be  active  Members.     Papworth,  who  had  been  Secre- 
tary, was  afterwards  made  an  Honorary  Member.     In  the  place  of 
these  six,  a  strong  reserve  of  eight  artists  was  then  brought  up  to 
reinforce  the  ranks.     The  new  Members  were  Luke  Clennell,  John 
Sell  Cotman,  David  Cox,  W.   M.   Craig,  Louis   Francia,  Mrs.  Meen, 
Samuel   Prout,  and    Henry  Richter.      Some   of  these  were  of  great 
future  distinction,  and  the  majority  were,  sooner  or  later,  to  become 
Members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society.     David  Cox  at  the  same  time 
succeeded  William  Wood  as  President  for  the  year.     The  number  of 
Members  was   thus   raised    from   eighteen  to  twenty,  and  about  as 
many  non-Members  were   annually  admitted   as    Exhibitors.      The 
works  exhibited  each  year  varied  in  amount  between  the  limits  of 
266  (in  1809)  and  345  (in  1810). 

With  such  constituent  elements  as  these,  the  series  of  shows  in 
Bond  Street  could  scarcely  fail  to  be  a  formidable  rival  to  those  at 
Spring  Gardens.  The  body  of  skilful  painters  who  afterwards  con- 
stituted the  strength  of  the  Water-Colour  Society,  when  it  came  again 
to  stand  alone  in  the  field,  was,  at  the  period  we  are  considering, 
divided  in  no  very  unequal  proportions  between  the  two  annual  ex- 
hibitions. At  that  time,  the  after  leaders  of  the  landscape  school, 
Cox,  De  Wint,  Prout ;  the  architectural  draftsmen,  F.  Nash  and  Mac- 
kenzie ;  Cotman,  excelling  in  both  departments  and  in  marine  also  ;  the 
subject-painters,/.  Steplianoff,  Holmes,  Richter,  and  Clennell ;  William 
Westall,  too,  the  traveller  ;  all  these  were  exhibiting  with  the  Asso- 
ciated Artists  before  any  of  them  joined  the  Society  where  Varley 
and  Havell,  Nicholson  and  Glover,  Barret,  Cristall,  and  their  earlier 
confreres,  retained  a  supremacy  as  yet  undisputed.  The  first-named 
•no  doubt,  were  younger  men,  some  of  whom — Prout  for  example — 
had  not  yet  felt  their  full  strength  or  acquired  their  maturer  style. 
They  were,  moreover,  immersed  in  a  crowd  of  obscure  practitioners, 
so  that  the  exhibitions  in  Bond  Street  were,  as  a  whole,  less  select  in 
quality  than  those  at  Spring  Gardens,  and  contained  '  a  large  proper- 


CH.  iv  FALL   OF   THE    FIRST   SOCIETY  269 

tion  of  bad  and  hasty  works.'  The  former  might  perhaps  more  truly 
be  described  as  a  nursery  for,  than  as  a  rival  of,  the  latter. 

In  general  character,  the  contents  of  the  two  galleries  had  much 
in  common.  '  The  first  thing,'  says  a  contemporary  reviewer  in  June 
1 8  io,' '  that  strikes  an  observer,  both  at  Spring  Gardens  and  Bond 
Street,  is  the  overwhelming  proportion  of  landscapes,  a  proportion 
almost  as  unreasonable  as  that  of  the  portraits  at  Somerset  House. 
In  pacing  round  the  rooms  the  spectator  experiences  sensations  some- 
what similar  to  those  of  an  outside  passenger  on  a  mail-coach  making 
a  picturesque  and  picturizing  journey  to  the  North.  Mountains  and 
cataracts,  rivers,  lakes,  and  woods,  deep  romantic  glens  and  sublime 
sweeps  of  country,  engage  his  eye  in  endless  and  ever-varying  succes- 
sion. For  a  while  he  is  delighted,  but  as  he  proceeds  the  pleasure 
gradually  fades  ;  he  feels  that  even  in  variety  there  may  be  sameness, 
and  would  freely  exchange  a  dozen  leagues  of  charming  landscape  for 
a  scene  among  "  the  busy  haunts  of  men." ' 

In  works  of  the  '  subject '  class  no  artist  of  the  rival  association 
could  rise  to  the  refinement  of  Cristall,  or  even  emulate  the  delicate 
sweetness  of  Uwins.  The  class  of  figure-painting  there  represented 
was  rather  the  correlative  of  Heaphy's,  having  more  of  a  popular  than 
an  artistic  aim.  Richter,  indeed,  had  some '  emblematical  riddles,'  but 
such  titles  as  'The  Taylor's  [sic]  Bill,'  'A  Visit  to  the  Cunning 
Woman,'  '  The  Brute  of  a  Husband,'  indicate  his  most  taking  works. 
Holmes  followed  the  same  line  in  'The  Doubtful  Shilling'  (1810),  a 
scene  in  a  butcher's  shop  ;  and  '  Miseries  of  Human  Life,'  wherein 
paterfamilias  displayed  his  temper  before  an  underdone  joint.  Clennell, 
too,  was  a  prolific  contributor,  successful  in  various  subjects  of  real  life, 
from  '  Greathead's  Lifeboat,  putting  off  to  relieve  a  Vessel  in  Distress,' 
down  to  a  '  Cellarman  bottling  Liquors.' 

In  1810  the  name  of  the  Society  underwent  further  modification, 
becoming  the  '  Associated  Painters  in  Water-Colours.'  In  the  next 
year,  1811,  the  numbers  of  exhibitors  and  of  works  exhibited  are  both 
somewhat  diminished,  and  symptoms  arise  of  financial  difficulty  ;  the 
following  confession  of  failure  being  printed  in  the  catalogue,  by  way 
of  apology  for  the  raising  of  its  price  from  sixpence  to  a  shilling : 
'  Some  surprise  having  been  expressed  on  account  of  the  increase  in 
the  price  of  the  catalogue  of  the  present  Exhibition,  it  is  thought 
proper  to  state  that  the  expenses  of  the  Establishment,  chiefly  owing 
1  See  Ackermann's  Repository,  iii.  423  and  432-435. 


2/o  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,   1805   1812  UK.  iv 

to  its  situation,  greatly  exceed  those  incurred  by  any  other  Body  of 
Artists  in  the  United  Kingdom,  and  that  these  expenses  will  perhaps 
eventually  rest  upon  no  more  than  Eight  Persons,  who,  sensible  of  the 
stimulus  which  this  Society  has  given  to  the  Arts,  have,  though  at  a 
great  and  certain  loss,  determined  to  continue  its  support,  and  to 
communicate  gratis  the  advantages  it  affords  to  all  Artists  of  real 
merit.  They  have,  therefore,  ventured  to  add  to  the  price  of  their 
Catalogue,  as  a  trifling  means  of  lessening  their  expenses,  and  with 
the  direct  view  of  throwing  a  small  part  of  the  burthen  they  have 
spiritedly  undertaken  upon  the  liberality  of  the  Public.1  The  list  of 
contributors  is  at  the  same  time  further  divided,  nine  out  of  the  twenty 
exhibiting  Members  being  placed  in  a  distinct  class  under  the  title  of 
'  Associated  Members.'  One  of  these,  John  Laporte,  withdrew  before 
the  following  season  ;  but  the  remainder,  who  were  still  true  to  their 
colours  in  1812,  may  be  assumed  to  have  been  the  eight  spirited 
enthusiasts  above  referred  to.  These  were :  Henry  Richter  (Presi- 
dent), W.  J.  Bennett  (Treasurer),  L.  Francia  (Secretary),  David  Cox, 
W.  M.  Craig,  J.  Huet-Villiers,  J.  Holmes,  and  W.  Walker. 

The  exhibition  of  1812  was  the  last  expiring  effort  of  the  Bond 
Street  association.  To  ensure  popularity  they  employed  fresh 
devices,  even  to  the  extent  of  abandoning  the  original  lines  upon 
which  that  society  had  been  constituted.  Oil  paintings  were 
admitted  '  as  well  as  water-colour  drawings,  and  the  number  of 
exhibitors  was  largely  increased.  Among  the  Members  for  this  year 
was  William  Blake,  who  exhibited  his  extraordinary  pictures  of  the 
'  Spiritual  Forms '  of  Pitt 2  and  Nelson,  guiding  Behemoth  and 
Leviathan  respectively,  and  his  well-known  'Canterbury  Pilgrims 
leaving  the  Tabarde  Inn.'  Richter  had  an  oil  picture  of  '  Christ 
restoring  the  Blind  to  Sight ; '  and  Francia  painted  in  the  same 
medium  a  pendant  to  a  Poussin  which  Sir  Thomas  Baring  had  ex- 
hibited in  the  British  Institution.  Holmes  had  a  popular  present- 
ment of  a  refractory  schoolboy,  and  Frederick  Mackenzie  continued  a 
series  of  excellent  studies  for  Ackermann's  aquatint  illustrations  of 
Westminster  Abbey. 

In  spite  of  these  and  other  attractions,  the  exhibition  was  a  com- 
mercial failure.  The  associated  eight  had  been  only  too  just  in  their 
anticipation  of  loss.  Instead  of  a  surplus  of  profit  remaining,  as  in 

1  Ackermann's  Repository,  vii.  336. 

1  That  of  Pitt  is  now  in  the  National  Gallery,  No.  1 1 10. 


CH.  IV 


FALL   OF   THE   FIRST   SOCIETY 


271 


the  case  of  the  old  Society,  for  distribution  among  Members,  there 
was  not  enough  in  hand  to  pay  expenses;  and,  finally,  down  came  the 
landlord,  and  seized  the  contents  of  the  gallery  in  distraint  of  rent. 
The  chief  sufferer  was  David  Cox,  the  whole  of  his  year's  drawings 
being  taken  from  him  and  sold  without  compensation,  which,  even  at 
the  small  prices  they  then  fetched,  inflicted  a  serious  loss  upon  the 
rising  painter. 

Thus  closed  the  short  career  of  the  '  Associated  Artists '  (or 
Painters)  in  Water-Colours.1  Catalogues  of  the  five  exhibitions  are 
to  be  found  in  the  excellent  Art  Library  at  the  South  Kensington 
Museum.  But  as  copies  are  very  scarce,  it  has  been  thought  ex- 
pedient to  compile,  for  the  convenience  of  collectors  and  others,  the 
following  alphabetical  list  of  the  Members  and  Exhibitors,  with  an 
indication  of  the  capacities  in  which  they  appear  in  the  several  exhi- 
bitions. Those  whose  names  are  in  small  capitals  afterwards  became 
Members,  and  those  in  italics  Associates  of  our  Society. 

MEMBERS  AND  EXHIBITORS  OF  AND  WITH  THE 
ASSOCIATED  ARTISTS  (OR  PAINTERS}  IN  WATER-COLOURS. 

P  signifies  President ;  T,  Treasurer  ;  S,  Secretary  ;  M,  Member  ;  HM,  Honorary 
Member  ;  AM,  Associated  Member ;  E,  Exhibitor  ;  HE,  Honorary  Exhibitor. 


IN 
1808 

:ATALOGI 
1809 

E  OF  EX 

1810 

1IBITION 
l8ll 

OF 

1812 

Annis,  W.      . 

E 

Barber,  C.     . 

E 

M 

M 

Barker,  B.      . 

M 

Baxter,  Thomas     . 

E 

Baynes,  James 

E 

E 

M 

M 

Bennett,  William  James 

M 

M 

M 

T 

T 

Betham,  Miss 

E 

E 

Blake,  W.      . 

M 

Bone,  Henry  Pierce 

M 

Bourlier,  Miss 

E 

Brighty,  G.  M.       . 

E 

Brooke,  W.  H.      . 

E 

E 

Burden,  J. 

E 

Cartwright,  C.  M. 

E 

Cawse,  J. 

E 

Chalon,  Alfred 

M 

Clennell,  Luke 

M 

M 

M 

Cockburn,  R. 

E 

Compton,  T. 

E 

Conde,  P. 

E 

E 

Coney,  J. 

E 

1  The  sources  of  confusion  arising  from  similarity  of  names  and  places  appear  to  be  inex- 
haustible. There  was  yet  to  be  another  body  of  '  Associated  Painters  in  Water-Colours, ' 
which  held  three  exhibidons  at  16  Old  Bond  Street  in  1832-34.  It  was  started  by  the  late 
Mr.  James  Fahey,  and  was  the  origin  of  the  '  New  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours," 
now  the  '  Royal  Institute.'  (See  Aihenaitm,  19  Dec.  1885,  and  infrj.) 


273 


THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812 


BK.  IV 


MEMBERS  AND  EXHIBITORS  &c. — continued. 


IN 
1808 

CATALOGl 
1809 

E   OK   EX 

1810 

1IBITION 

1811 

OF 

1812 

Cooper,  G.    . 

E 

Cotman,  J.  S.         .         .         . 

M 

M 

Cox,  DAVID. 

E 

P 

AM 

AM 

Craig.J  

E 

E 

Craig,  W.  M. 

E 

M 

AM 

AM 

Dagley,  R  

E 

De  Barde,  Chevalier 

E 

DE  WINT,  P.         ... 

E 

M 

Dighton,  D  

E 

Dinsdale,  George  . 

E 

E 

Dixon,  J.                 .                   . 

E 

Dixon,  Robert 

E 

Douglass,  J.   .         .         . 

E 

E 

Foster,  W  

E 

Francia,  L.    .         . 

E 

M 

S 

S 

Gartside,  Miss 

E 

Gauci,  M.      . 

E 

Goddard,  J.  (Strand)      . 
Goddard,  J.  (Upper  Grosvenor 

E 

Street)    .... 

E 

Goodman,  T. 

E 

Goodwin,  E.           ... 

E 

E 

E 

E 

Green,  James          .         . 

T 

T 

T 

Green,  Mrs.  .... 

M 

M 

M 

Green,  W  

E 

E 

Hassell,  J  

E 

Hayter,  G  

M 

Hewlett,  J  

E 

E 

E 

M 

M 

Hoffland,  T.  C.      . 

E 

HOLMES,  J  

E 

M 

M 

AM 

AM 

Huet-Villiers,  J.     . 

M 

M 

M 

AM 

AM 

Ibbetson,  John 

HE 

E 

Jones,  Mrs.  S.        .         .         . 

E 

Kennion,  Charles  James 

E 

Laporte,  John 

M 

M 

M 

AM 

E 

Leschallas,  J. 

E 

E 

Leveque,  J.    . 

E 

MACKENZIE,  FRED. 

E 

M 

Martin,  —     .         .         .         . 

E 

Meen,  Mrs.    .... 

M 

Morton,  H.    . 

E 

E 

NASH,  FREDERICK 

E 

M 

O'Neill,  H  

E 

Owen,  Samuel 

M 

M 

M 

Papworth,  John 

M 

S 

HM 

HM 

Pearson,  William   . 

E 

E 

Perkins,  L.     .         .         . 

E 

Powell,  Joseph 

E 

E 

E 

E 

E 

PROUT,  S  

M 

M 

M 

RICHTER,  HENRY 

E 

M 

P 

P 

Roberts,  T.  Santell 

E 

Robertson,  Andrew 

S 

M 

M 

Robertson,  C. 

E 

Robertson,  C.  J.     . 

E 

ROBSON,  G.  F.      . 

E 

M 

M 

Sass,  Richard 

E 

Schetky,  J  
Schetky,  J.  C. 

E 

E 

E 

E 

M 
M 

M 
M 

Shepperson,  M. 

E 

E 

CII.  IV 


FALL    OF    THE    FIRST   SOCIETY 
MEMBERS  AND  EXHIBITORS  &c. — continued. 


273 


IN 

1808 

CATALOG  I 
1809 

E  OF   EXJ 

1810 

ilBITION 

1811 

OF 

1812 

Smith,  Miss  Emma 

M 

Smith,  J.  Clarendon 

E 

M 

M 

Smith,  S  

E 

E 

Stanley,  C.  R.        . 

E 

Steele,  Miss  J. 

E 

M 

Stephanoff,  F.  P.   . 

E 

E 

M 

STEPHANOFF,  JAMES     . 

E 

E 

M 

M 

Stump,  S.  J. 

E 

Thomson,  D. 

E 

Thomson,    William   John   (or 

Thompson) 

M 

M 

Tulloch,  Mrs. 

E 

E 

Turner,  C.     . 

E 

Upham,  —    . 

E 

Walker,  William  (Junior) 

M 

M 

M 

AM 

AM 

Watts,  William  Henry   . 

M 

WESTALL,  WILLIAM 

M 

M 

Williams,  H.  W.    . 

M 

M 

Wilson,  Andrew     . 

M 

M 

S 

Wood,  William      . 

P 

P 

M 

Events  had  thus  appeared  to  demonstrate  that  there  were  as  yet 
no  sufficient  means  of  subsistence  for  two  co-ordinate  societies.  Nor 
was  the  survivor  so  conscious  of  vitality  as  to  neglect  the  opportunity 
now  offered  of  engrafting  upon  its  own  system  any  profitable  element 
which  had  appertained  to  the  defunct  association. 

At  the  meeting  at  Hills's  before  referred  to,  on  the  5th  of 
November,  1812,  it  was  first  proposed  to  extend  the  scope  of  the 
exhibition  in  Spring  Gardens,  by  inviting  the  co-operation  of  all 
painters  in  water-colours.  But  a  resolution  to  this  effect  was  rejected 
by  a  decisive  majority,  and  a  second  proposal  of  a  far  more  subver- 
sive kind  was  made  and  accepted.  This  was  in  fact  to  do  what  had 
been  done  by  the  rival  Society  in  the  last  fatal  year  of  its  existence. 
A  resolution  was  carried  by  a  majority  of  ten  to  eight,  '  that  in 
future  Members  and  Associates  of  this  Society  may  send  Oil  Pictures 
as  well  as  Drawings  for  Exhibition.'  All  the  Members  entitled  to 
take  part  in  the  proceedings  were  present  at  this  meeting,  except 
Gilpin,  Pocock,  Pugin,  Uwins,  and  Westall.  At  a  further  meeting, 
held  at  Glover's  house  in  Montagu  Square  on  the  following  Thurs- 
day, of  eighteen  Members,  including  Pugin  and  Uwins,  this  important 
subject  was  submitted  to  a  long  discussion,  and  the  law  admitting 
oil  pictures  was  confirmed  on  a  division,  by  the  casting  vote  of 
Cornelius  Varley.  The  result  of  this  victory  of  the  revolutionary 


274  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  EK.  IV 

party  was  that  Chalon,  Stevens,  and  Dorrell  immediately  tendered 
their  resignations.  President  Reinagle,  also,  in  a  letter  (appa- 
rently not  preserved)  expressed  his  sentiments  on  the  admission  of 
oil  pictures  into  the  future  exhibitions.  They  seem  to  have  been 
unfavourable ;  for  he  took  no  further  part  in  the  affairs  of  the 
Society. 

Four  days  after,  however,  on  the  i6th,  there  was  another  muster, 
at  Glover's,  of  eighteen  Members,  who  rescinded  the  above  resolutions, 
and  substituted  the  following  :  '  That  the  Society  was  established,  as 
the  preface  to  their  first  Catalogue  declares,  for  the  purpose  of 
forming  an  Exhibition,  which,  consisting  of  "  Water-Colour  Pictures 
only,  must  from  that  circumstance  give  them  a  better  arrangement 
and  a  fairer  ground  of  appreciation  than  when  mixed  with  Pictures 
in  Oil."  That  the  admission  of  Pictures  in  Oil  would  entirely  change 
the  character  of  the  Society,  and  prove  a  manifest  dereliction  of  that 
principle  upon  which  they  have  hitherto  uniformly  laid  their  claim  to 
the  public  support.  That  therefore  the  said  Law  admitting  oil 
Pictures  be  rescinded.  That,  unconscious  as  the  Society  feel  of  any 
relaxation  in  their  efforts  to  deserve  public  patronage,  that  patronage 
has  been  withdrawn  from  their  two  last  Exhibitions.  That,  upon 
inquiry  among  the  Members  respecting  the  degree  of  support  likely 
to  be  brought  forward  in  their  ensuing  Exhibition,  they  cannot  draw  a 
hope  of  forming  one  that  will  in  any  degree  vie  with  their  last.  That 
with  such  an  evident  decline  in  their  Exhibition,  the  Society  can  see 
no  other  prospect  than  that  of  a  serious  deficiency  in  their  receipts 
(those  of  the  present  year  having  done  little  more  than  cover  their 
expences)  and  still  further  neglect  from  the  Public.  That  therefore 
the  Society  do  consider  itself  as  dissolved  on  Monday,  November  3<3th, 
its  Anniversary,  but  that  Members  be  summoned  to  attend  on  that 
day  at  Mr.  Hills's  at  seven  in  the  evening  to  receive  the  Report  of 
their  Committee,  who  are  requested  to  be  prepared  with  a  final  adjust- 
ment of  the  Society's  affairs.' 

Thus  on  its  eighth  birthday  the  young  Society,  which  first  drew 
breath  at  the  Stratford  Coffee  House  in  Oxford  Street  on  the  3Oth  of 
November,  1804,  met  at  the  house  of  their  secretary,  Robert  Hills, 
No.  1 5  London  Street,  Fitzroy  Square,  with  the  intent  of  deliberate 
suicide.  This  final  meeting  was  attended  by  Wells,  Nicholson, 
Pocock,  Chalon.  Pugin,  Nash,  C.  Varley,  Rigaud,  Smith,  De  Wint, 
Ilavcll,  Uwins,  Barret,  Dorrell,  Glover,  Holworthy,  J.  Varley,  Cristali, 


CH.  IV  FALL    OF    THE    FIRST   SOCIETY  275 

Atkinson,  Wild,  and  Hills.  Havell  took  the  chair,  and  for  the  long 
chain  of  resolutions  above  quoted  was  substituted  the  following  short 
epitome  of  their  result :  '  That  the  Society,  having  found  it  imprac- 
ticable to  form  another  Exhibition  of  Water-Colour  Paintings  only, 
do  consider  itself  dissolved  this  night.'  The  books,  vouchers  &c. 
were  ordered  to  be  retained  for  reference  in  the  hands  of  Rigaud 
and  Hills,  the  treasurer  and  secretary  of  the  moribund  Society,  and, 
with  an  entry  to  that  effect,  its  minutes  come  to  an  end. 

We  shall  see,  however,  that  the  Society,  taking  indeed  for  a  time 
a  somewhat  altered  shape,  was  soon  to  spring  again,  like  the  Phcenix 
from  its  ashes.  But  certain  of  the  old  constituent  elements  were  to 
form  no  part  of  the  new  body.  A  farewell  has  therefore  to  be  taken 
of  some  of  our  present  acquaintance,  before  again  resuming  the 
thread  of  the  main  history. 

Eight  years  had  now  passed  over  the  heads  of  the  original 
Members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society,  and  the  same  number  of 
summers  and  winters  had  had  their  effect,  whether  of  ripening  or 
decay,  upon  the  artists  and  their  art.  Of  the  little  group  of  founders, 
the  names  of  Wells  and  Rigaud  appear  no  more. 

WELLS  was  now  upwards  of  fifty.  He  had  been  an  annual  con- 
tributor to  the  gallery  since  1805,  to  the  number  of  about  ninety 
works  in  all,  but  had  exhibited  no  more  than  seven  during  the  last 
three  out  of  the  five  seasons.  Besides  subjects  from  his  old  sketches 
in  Norway,  and  a  few  others  from  foreign  lands  (some  doubtless  from 
sketches  by  other  travellers),  his  drawings  include  views  in  Kent, 
where  he  had  the  house  at  Knockholt  in  which  the  great  Turner 
planned  his  Liber ;  and  in  Wales,  where,  during  a  professional  tour, 
he  made  sketches  that  came  into  the  collection  of  Mr.  Hibbert  (to 
whom  the  volume  of  Gainsborough  fac-similes  by  him  and  Laporte 
was  dedicated).  There  were  also  '  landscape  compositions,'  and  a 
few  rustic  figures.  He  had  at  the  same  time  continued  to  exercise 
his  calling  as  a  teacher.  Upon  the  completion  of  Addiscombe 
College  he  was  appointed  the  first  Professor  of  Drawing  to  that 
institution,  an  office  he  retained  for  twenty  years. 

Wells  was  a  man  of  industrious  habits  and  fond  of  books.  His 
latter  days  were  passed  in  easy  retirement,  and  he  still  enjoyed  in 
quiet  the  partial  practice  of  his  art,  at  a  cottage  he  purchased  at 
Mitcham,  where  he  lived  for  some  years  before  his  death.  That 


276  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805   1812  UK.  iv 

event  took  place  there  on  the  loth  of  November,  1836,  in  the  seventy- 
fourth  year  of  his  age. 

RlGAUD  had  pursued  his  wonted  path  in  the  fields  of  fancy, 
exhibiting  from  three  to  ten  drawings  a  year,  amounting  to  fifty  in 
all.  One-fifth  at  least  are  sacred  subjects,  from  the  New  or  the  Old 
Testament.  The  rest  are  for  the  most  part  illustrations  of  heathen 
mythology,  and  of  the  writings  of  Milton,  Spenser  and  other  British 
poets.  A  considerable  number  are  from  Ossian,  and  a  few  of  the 
earlier,  as  already  stated,  are  pure  allegory.  After  severing  from  his 
former  colleagues  he  showed  his  pictures  again  at  the  Royal  Academy 
until  1815,  and  also  at  the  British  Institution  and  the  Society  of 
British  Artists  until  1852.  In  1814  he  exhibited  a  large  picture 
of  the  '  Invasion  of  France  '  in  the  preceding  year,  with  portraits  of 
Wellington  and  his  generals.  Including  the  fifty  drawings  at  our 
Society,  his  exhibited  works  amounted  in  number  to  II8.1 

The  date  and  place  of  his  death,  as  of  his  birth,  have  not  been 
ascertained.  During  his  membership  he  had  moved  from  Titchfield 
Street  to  48  London  Street,  Fitzroy  Square,  and  thence  to  19  Upper 
Thornhaugh  Street,  Bedford  Square,  all  in  the  same  much  frequented 
artist  quarter  of  London.  Rigaud's  name  appears  once  more,  how- 
ever, in  the  records  of  the  Society,  long  after  its  last  reconstruction, 
and  in  the  days  of  its  subsequent  prosperity.  It  is  recorded  on  the 
minutes  of  3  August,  1849,  that  'the  Secretary  read  a  letter  from  Mr. 
Rigaud,  one  of  the  original  founders  of  the  Society  in  1804,  stating 
his  desire  to  be  again  recognized  as  a  Member.  The  Secretary  was 
directed  to  communicate  to  Mr.  Rigaud  that  his  letter  had  been 
heard  with  much  interest,  and  with  the  respect  due  to  a  communication 
from  the  only  surviving 2  original  Member,  but  that  according  to  the 
Laws  it  would  be  necessary  for  Mr.  Rigaud  to  present  some  of  his 
recent  works  for  the  consideration  of  the  Society  in  the  usual  way  of 
election,  &c.'  No  further  mention  is  made  of  the  application. 

Final  notice  has  to  be  taken  at  this  epoch  of  several  other  artists 
with  whose  names  the  reader  is  more  or  less  familiar.  Reinagle, 
Chalon  and  Westall  took  no  part  in  the  proceedings  of  the  new 

1  Graves's  Dictionary. 

1  This  was  an  error.  Cornelius  Varley  was  the  last  survivor.  And,  moreover,  Rigaud 
was  not  one  of  the  ten  actual  founders,  though  he  joined  them  immediately  after  their  union 
took  place. 


CH.  IV  FALL   OF   THE    FIRST   SOCIETY  277 

Society.  All  three  soon  became  Associates,  and  afterwards  full 
Members,  of  the  Royal  Academy. 

R.  R.  REINAGLE,  who  was  President  at  the  time  of  the  dissolution, 
had  been  a  steady  contributor.  He  had  exhibited  sixty-two  draw- 
ings, from  first  to  last,  all  of  them  scenes  in  South  Italy,  or  views  in 
the  PLnglish  Lake  district.  No  doubt  they  were  carefully  composed 
pictures.  The  artist,  in  describing  them  for  the  catalogue,  is  fond  of 
specifying  topographic  particulars  at  more  than  usual  length,  and  is 
careful  to  add  the  time  of  day  at  which  the  picture  is  supposed  to  be 
painted,  as  '  early  in  the  morning,' '  forenoon,'  '  noon,' '  sunset,'  '  even- 
ing,' '  twilight,'  and  the  like. 

He  was  thirty-seven  when  his  connexion  with  the  Water-Colour 
Society  ceased,  and  a  great  part  of  his  artistic  career  was  still  before 
him.  He  was  made  an  Associate  of  the  Academy  in  1814,  and  an 
R.A.  in  1823,  and  he  exhibited  there  between  1788  and  1857  no  less 
than  244  works.1  But  an  unfortunate  event  occurred  in  1848,  which 
cast  a  blot  upon  his  reputation  somewhat  allied  to  that  which  has 
been  recorded  of  J.  C.  Nattes.  He  was  charged  with  having 
exhibited  at  the  Royal  Academy,  and  sold  as  his  own,  a  picture 
painted  by  another  hand  (that  of  a  young  artist  named  Yarnold,  of 
whom  little  is  known),  which  he  had  bought  at  a  broker's.  He  had 
indeed  added  some  of  his  own  handiwcrk,  so  much  of  it  in  fact  that 
a  living  critic  who  remembers  seeing  it  assures  the  writer  that  he 
considered  it  '  a  complete  Reinagle.'  But  his  brother  Academicians 
refused  to  admit  that  this  had  converted  it  into  a  work  of  his  own, 
and  he  was  obliged  to  retire  from  their  body.  Possibly  an  employ- 
ment wherein  he  had  been  for  some  time  engaged  had  induced  an 
inverse  habit  of  imitation  which  misguided  the  direction  of  his  efforts. 
He  had  not  been  trying  to  engraft  his  own  characteristics  upon  the 
works  of  other  painters,  but,  on  the  contrary,  training  his  hand  to 
assume  their  several  manners.  He  was,  it  is  said,  engaged  at  a  daily 
fee  by  a  picture  dealer  in  Golden  Square  to  restore  old  masters  ;  and 
to  have  become  an  adept  in  putting  in  figures  and  cattle  where  re- 
quired,  touching  up  trees  in  Ruysdaels  and  Hobbemas,  and  to  have 
been  equal  even  to  the  completing  of  a  Cuyp.2  He  was  a  skilful 
copyist  of  Caspar  Poussins  in  the  National  Gallery.  He  began  on 

1  Graves's  Dictionary  of  Artists. 

*  There  is  a  story  of  his  having  overheard  from  his  adjoining  work-room  a  negotiation 
which  ended  in   the  purchase  by  Sir  Robert  Peel,  on   Lady  Peel's  persuasion,  of  a  700 


278  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,   1805-1812  BK.  IV 

a  red  ground,  and  finished  the  picture  in  a  day  or  so.1  Reinagle  was 
then  more  than  seventy  years  of  age,  but  full  of  life  and  energy.  He 
was  a  man  of  great  natural  ability  and  intelligence,  with  a  taste  for 
mechanics  and  inventions.  Some  years  after  he  had  left  the  Academy, 
he  took  to  discoursing  upon  technical  art,  and  gave  some  lectures  at 
about  half-a-crown  admission  in  one  of  the  show  rooms  of  his  friend 
Collard,  the  pianoforte  maker,  who  was  fond  of  pictures.  Some  main- 
tained that  he  had  been  harshly  treated  by  the  Academy,  and  perhaps 
the  opinion  was  held  there.  For  a  liberal  allowance,  made  to  him 
from  the  funds  of  that  body,  was  continued  to  his  death,  which  event 
occurred  at  Chelsea  on  the  i^th  of  November,2  1862,  at  the  age  of 
eighty-seven. 

Many  of  his  landscapes  have  been  engraved  as  book  illustrations. 
From  1818  to  1828,  and  in  1830,  the  small  pocket-book  views  in 
Peacock's  Polite  Repository,  engraved  by  John  Pye,  are  from  R.  R. 
Reinagle's  designs.  To  W.  B.  Cooke's  The  Thames  he  supplied 
three  of  the  plates,  viz.  'Richmond,'  dated  i  Feb.  1819;  '  Sion 
House,'  i  Nov.  1821 ;  'Opening  of  Waterloo  Bridge,'  I  Aug.  1822.  In 
the  Bijou  for  1828  is  '  Haddon  Hall '  (z\  x  3|  in.),  engraved  after  him 
by  R.  Wallis.  In  Tillotson's  Album  of  Scottish  Scenery  (1834?)  is 
'  Bothwell  Castle,'  engraved  after  him  by  E.  Finden.  In  J.  M.  W. 
Turner's  Views  in  Sussex,  engraved  by  W.  B.  Cooke,  1819  (Part 
i  :  no  more  published),  the  '  scientific  and  explanatory  notices  of 
the  drawings'  are  by  R.  R.  Reinagle. 

J.  J.  CHALON  was  not  received  into  the  Academy  until  long  after. 
He  was  made  A.R.A.  in  1827,  and  R.A.  in  1841.  In  the  mean  time 
he  exhibited  works  there  of  greater  interest  and  importance  than 
any  he  had  sent  to  the  Water-Colour  Society,  showing  his  versatility 
and  power  in  painting  both  landscape  and  genre,  and  giving  character 
to  his  figures  as  well  as  grouping  them  with  skill.  His  works  at  the 
Society  from  1806  to  1812  numbered  fifty-one,  mostly  studies  by 
the  Thames  or  the  Wye,  with  rustic  figures  to  match.  In  1809  he  has 
a  view  of  the  fire  at  Drury  Lane  Theatre,  seen  from  Westminster 

guinea  Hobbema  in  the  conversion  of  which  he  had  had  a  hand.  Sir  Robert,  it  is  added, 
who  was  doubtful  of  it  from  the  first,  retained  it  in  his  gallery,  though  not  on  the  line,  as  au 
interesting  specimen  of  clever  imitation. 

1  Three  of  his  copies  from  the  Rubenses  at  Antwerp  were  exhibited  at  61  Pall  Mall  in 
1819.  See  Description,  8vo.  1819.  (S.,  K,  Lib.) 

*  Redgrave.     Ottley  says  '  December. ' 


CH. 


FALL   OF   THE    FIRST   SOCIETY  279 


Bridge.  He  gave  to  Greenwich  Hospital  a  picture  of  '  Napoleon  on 
board  the  Bellerophon,  1815,'  and  there  is  a  large  and  striking  oil 
painting  of  '  Hastings  '  by  him  at  the  South  Kensington  Museum. 
A  set  of  Twenty-four  Subjects  exhibiting  the  Costume  of  Paris,  '  the 
incidents  taken  from  nature,  designed  and  drawn  on  stone  by 
J.  J.  Chalon,'  small  folio,  was  published  in  1822,  the  dates  on  the 
plates  being  from  May  1820.  Most  of  them  have  a  touch  of  humour. 

Neither  he  nor  his  brother  ever  married,  and  their  close  com- 
panionship was  only  severed  by  John's  death,  which  took  place  on 
the  i4th  of  November,  1854,  at  the  age  of  seventy-four,  after  a  long 
illness,  commencing  with  a  paralytic  seizure  in  1847.  His  brother 
followed  him  in  less  than  six  years,  dying  at  the  same  old  house  at 
Campden  Hill  where  the  two  had  passed  together  the  autumn  of  their 
lives.  They  were  regarded  with  much  esteem,  and  their  social 
qualities  made  them  always  welcome  in  the  high  professional  circle 
in  which  they  moved. 

The  name  of  the  brothers  Chalon  must  not  be  dismissed  from 
this  record  without  a  memorandum  of  a  pleasant  club  of  which  they 
are  said  to  have  been  the  founders,  as  they  were  for  many  years  its 
life  and  soul,  called  The  Sketching  Society.  It  was  not  confined  to 
Members  of  the  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours,  but  the  two 
bodies  had  Members  enough  in  common  to  justify  our  regarding  the 
former  as  in  some  measure  an  offshoot  of  the  latter.  The  father  of 
such  Societies  was  that  accredited  to  Girtin,  of  which  an  account  has 
already  been  given.  Rut  that  now  spoken  of  was  the  most  celebrated, 
and  left  the  most  enduring  visible  results.  Earlier  meetings  of  the 
same  kind  are  spoken  of  as  having  taken  place  among  the  first 
Members  of  the  Water-Colour  Society,  even  from  the  time  of  its 
foundation  in  1804,  when  'a  friendly  society'  is  alleged  to  have 
met  '  at  the  house  of  each  in  rotation,  there  to  spend  the  evening 
in  sketching,  composition  &c.  &c.'  To  its  meetings  John  Varley, 
it  is  said,  though  '  not  one  of  the  original  members,  was  always 
invited,  his  talent  as  an  artist,  social  qualities,  and  liberality  in 
imparting  information  to  his  brother  artists  securing  him  always  a 
welcome.'  '  Sketches  by  Havell  and  Atkinson  also  are  believed  to 
have  been  made  on  such  occasions.  Of  this  earlier  body  Cristall 
was  a  Member,  and  perhaps  the  originator.  It  was  dissolved 
before  the  foundation  of  the  more  celebrated  'Sketching  Society.'2 

1  Art  Union,  Jan.  1843.  *  Letter  from  A.  E.  Chalon.     J.  J.  J.  MSS. 


280  THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  IV 

Though  it  was  popularly  known  by  the   above  name,  the  original 
title  of  the  more  celebrated  club  was  '  The  Society  for  the  Study  of 
Epic  and  Pastoral  Design.'     It  originated  with  the  two  Chalons,  and 
Francis  Stevens,  at  whose  house  in  Wigmore  Street  the  first  meeting 
was  held  on  the  6th  of  January  (Twelfth  Night),  1808,  when  the  plan 
of  the  Society  was  arranged.     Its  first  members,  besides  the  above 
three,  were  Turner  (of  Oxford)  and  Cornelius  Varley  (fellow-Members 
with  them  of  the  Water-Colour  Society),  with  Thomas  Webster,  the 
architect,  above  mentioned  as  a  companion  of  the  Varleys  in  Wales 
in    1802,   and    Michael   Sharp,  a  painter  of  portraits   and    popular 
subjects  of  a  humorous  class.     To  these  at  the  second  meeting  was 
added  Henry  Pierce   Bone,  the  portrait  painter   in    enamel,  above 
mentioned  as  one  of  the  Associated  Artists  in  1808,  who  was  then 
working  chiefly   in    oil,  and   composing  subjects    from    history  and 
poetic  fiction.     The  number  was  at  first  limited  to  eight,  but  two  or 
three  honorary  Members  were  afterwards  admitted,  and  the  president 
for  the  evening  had  the  privilege  of  introducing  one  visitor.     The 
Society  held  weekly  meetings  during  the  winter  season  from  October 
to  April.     At  the  anniversary  they  indulged  in  a  little  extra  merri- 
ment, with  toasts  and  speeches  round  a  Twelfth  cake,  and  at  Mid- 
summer they  made  an  excursion  together  to  visit '  something  beautiful 
in    nature  or   art,  generally   in    both,'  winding  up  the   day  with   a 
dinner  at  Richmond  or  Greenwich,  '  or  some  other  country  retreat.' 
The  ordinary  meetings,  on  the  model  of  Girtin's  Society,  were  held 
at  each  other's  houses  '  in  rotation,  the  host  of  the  evening  being  also 
president,  and   giving  out  the  subject  to  be  treated  after  tea  and 
coffee.     At  eight  o'clock  they  commenced  operations,  and   at   ten 
sat  down  to  supper,  a  very  simple  meal  at  first,  but  as  their  appetites 
grew  more  fastidious  it  became  so  luxurious  that  laws  were  found 
necessary  to  restrain  it.     After  supper  the  drawings  were  collected 
by  the  president,  and  put  up  separately  for  each  member  to  criticize  ; 
and  this  was  done  with  more  candour  and  judgment  than  is  usually 
found  in  professional  critics.      The  drawing  remained  the  property 
of  the  president  of  the  evening  (who  by  ancient  law  was  not  allowed 
to   sell   or   otherwise  dispose  of  them  during   his   life   without  the 
consent   of  the   Society),  and    thus    ended    a    very   agreeable   and 
not  ill-spent  evening.'  *    In  accordance  with  the  name  chosen  for  the 

1  Memoir  of  Thomas  Uwins,  R.A.,  \.  163,  164. 


CH.  iv  FALL  OF   THE   FIRST  SOCIETY  281 

Society,  the  subjects  at  first  were  '  chiefly  from  the  ancient  classics,' 
and,  according  to  Pyne,  '  the  host  prepared  written  extracts  on 
separate  slips '  for  the  use  of  the  members  (whose  school  memories 
were  perhaps  not  always  to  be  trusted),  besides  providing,  as  in  duty 
bound,  'paper  strained  on  drawing  frames,  pencils,  and  -sepia.' l 
Afterwards  the  scope  allowed  was  almost  unlimited.  The  Sketching 
Society  had  a  bright  existence,  and  lasted  for  forty  years.  It  will 
be  recurred  to  at  a  period  of  its  greater  fame. 

One  of  the  last  drawings  exhibited  by  WILLIAM  WESTALL  with 
the  Water-Colour  Society  was  a  view  of  Port  Jackson  (in  the  gallery 
of  1812),  doubtless  that  now  at  South  Kensington  with  the  date 
1804.  It  forms  one  of  the  illustrations  (engraved  in  line  from  his 
drawings)  of  the  two  quarto  volumes  containing  the  history  of  the 
ill-fated  expedition  to  which  he  had  begun  life  as  draftsman.  In  the 
South  Kensington  Catalogue  it  is  described  as  '  painted  in  the  tinted 
manner,  but  with  local  colour  used  with  opaque  white  sparingly 
for  the  high  lights."  The  book  did  not  come  out  until  1814,  when 
it  was  published  with  the  title  A  Voyage  to  Terra  Australis,  '  under- 
taken for  the  purpose  of  completing  the  discovery  of  that  vast 
country,  and  prosecuted  in  the  years  1801,  1802,  and  1803,  in  his 
Majesty's  ship  the  Investigator,  and  subsequently  in  the  armed  vessel 
Porpoise  and  Cumberland  schooner  :  with  an  account  of  the  ship- 
wreck of  the  Porpoise,  arrival  of  the  Cumberland  at  Mauritius,  and 
imprisonment  of  the  commander  during  six  years  and  a  half  in 
that  island  ;  by  Matthew  Flinders,  commander  of  the  Investigator! 
The  following  eminent  landscape  line  engravers  were  employed 
therein  in  reproducing  Westall's  designs,  namely  :  J.  Byrne,  S.  Middi- 
man,  J.  Pye,  L.  Scott,  and  W.  Woolnoth.  Captain  Flinders  died  in 
July  1814,  on  the  very  day  on  which  the  book  was  published.3 
Westall  was  also  employed  by  the  Admiralty  to  make  pictures  from 
some  of  the  views,  which,  being  exhibited  in  1812  at  the  Royal 
Academy,  attracted  great  attention  by  reason  of  the  absolute  novelty 
of  the  subjects.  In  the  same  year  he  was  made  an  Associate  of  the 
last-named  body,  his  short  connexion  with  the  Water-Colour  Society 
coming  to  an  end  at  the  same  time. 

It  is,  however,  upon  his  water-colour  drawings,  rather  than  upon 
his  oil  paintings,  that  his  reputation  rests.  Even  the  former  are 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  \.  35.  *  Fenny  Cyclopizdia. 


282  THE  WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1805-1812  BK.  iv 

chiefly  known  through  the  medium  of  engravings.  '  His  colouring,' 
says  John  Landseer  the  engraver,1  '  was  chaste,  and  his  chiaroscuro 
harmonious,  never  flashing,  or  forced,  or  meretricious.  The  obtain- 
ment  of  fleeting  popularity  was  quite  out  of  his  way  :  the  artist  was 
never  obtruded  before  the  demands  of  the  subject :  and  hence 
Westall's  forte  was  rather  landscape  portraiture  than  the  treatment 
of  ideal  subjects;  hence  too,  and  from  a  corresponding  want  of  critical 
discrimination  on  the  part  of  the  public,  he  was  not  as  a  landscape 
painter— one,  besides,  who  had  seen  much  more  of  the  world  than 
his  academical  brethren — duly  appreciated,  although  justly  valued  by 
the  judicious  few."  Westall's  professional  career  had  scarcely  passed 
its  first  stage  when  he  joined  and  left  the  Water-Colour  Society. 
According  to  Graves,  seventy  of  his  works  are  named  in  the 
catalogues  of  the  Royal  Academy,  thirty  in  those  of  the  British  In- 
stitution, and  seven  in  those  of  the  Society  of  British  Artists,  between 
the  years  1801  and  1849,  the  last  of  his  life. 

His  integrity  of  character  and  unassuming  manners  secured  him 
many  valuable  friendships,  among  them  that  of  Sir  George  and  Lady 
Beaumont,  who  when  staying  at  Keswick  were  induced  to  seek  him 
out  on  observing  the  merit  of  one  of  his  Indian  sketches  at  a  stationer's 
shop  there.  His  acquaintance  with  Professor  Inman,  astronomer  to 
Flinders's  expedition,  led  indirectly  to  one  with  the  Rev.  Richard 
Sedgwick,  whose  daughter  Ann,  the  youngest  sister  of  the  eminent 
geologist,  Professor  Adam  Sedgwick,  he  married  on  the  22nd  of 
September,  i82o.2  She  died  in  1862. 

The  incidents  of  travel  in  his  youthful  days  seem  to  have  quenched 
any  thirst  for  adventure  that  he  may  have  possessed  ;  for,  with  one 
exception,  he  passed  the  rest  of  his  life  in  his  own  country,  sketch- 
ing chiefly,  but  not  exclusively,  in  the  fine  scenery  of  the  North  of 
England,  with  which,  after  all  he  had  seen,  he  was  much  impressed  ; 
and  working  up  for  the  engraver  both  home  and  foreign  studies,  to 
be  reproduced  in  popular  series  for  many  a  year.  The  exception  was 
a  visit  to  Paris  in  the  spring  of  1847,  the  only  time,  strange  to  say, 
that  he  ever  set  foot  on  the  continent  of  Europe.  In  the  following 
autumn  he  met  with  an  accident,  which,  though  not  immediately 
fatal,  brought  about  his  death  on  the  22nd  of  January,  1850,  in  his 

1  See  Art  Journal,  April  1850,  p.  105. 

2  The  Life    of  Sedgwick,  published  in    1890,  contains  some  landscape   woodcuts   and 
portraits  from  drawings  by  W.  Westall,  made  in  or  before  the  year  of  his  marriage. 


CH.  iv  FALL   OF  THE   FIRST  SOCIETY  283 

sixty- ninth  year,  at  St.  John's  Wood,  where  he  had  chiefly  resided 
since  his  marriage. 

The  following  works  (mostly  named  in  order  of  date)  are  illustrated, 
wholly  or  in  part,  by  William  Westall :  Views  of  Scenery  in  Madeira, 
the  Cape,  China,  and  India,  1811;  Ackermann's  History  of  Oxford, 
1813-14  (eight  of  the  plates);  Ackermann's  History  of  Cambridge, 
1815  (twenty-one  of  the  plates) ;  Ackermann's  History  of  Winchester, 
Eton,  Westminster  &c.,  1816  (fifteen  of  the  plates);  Cooke's  Pic- 
turesque Vieivs  of  the  Southern  Coast,  2  vols.  folio,  1826  ('South- 
ampton,' i  Jan.  1814;  'Netley  Abbey,'  i  Oct.  1816);  Pyne's  History 
of  the  Royal  Residences,  1819  (six  of  the  plates)  ;  Views  of  the  Caves 
near  Ingleton,  Gordale  Scar  and  Malham  Cove  in  Yorkshire,  4to,  1 8 1 8 
(twelve  strongly  shaded  aquatints,  'drawn  and  etched  by  Wm.  Westall, 
A.R.A.')  ;  A  Series  of  Views  of  the  Abbeys  and  Castles  in  Yorkshire, 
'drawn  and  engraved  by  W.  Westall,  A.R.A.,  and  F.  Mackenzie,1 
folio,  1820,  letterpress  by  T.  D.  Whitaker,  LL.D.  (four  of  the  eight 
aquatint  plates  ' )  ;  Fourteen  views  of  the  Lake  and  Vale  of  Kesivick, 
drawn  and  engraved  by  W.  Westall,  A.R.A.,  4to,  1820;  Britannia 
Illustrata  (Kent),  folio,  Rodwell  &  Martin,  1822  (two  lithographs, 
'Canterbury  from  North  Lane,  i  Feb.  1822;'  and  'The  Valley  of 
Maidstone,  looking  towards  Allingham,  pub.  Ackermann,  1823  '); 
Views  on  the  Thames  at  Richmond,  Eton,  Windsor,  and  Oxford,'  imp. 
4to,  1 824  (thirty-five  large  views  lithographed  by  Hullmandel);  Vieivs 
in  Egypt  and  Nubia,  4to,  Murray,  1824-5,  letterpress  by  Edw.  J. 
Cooper,  lithographs  after  drawings  by  S.  Bossi,  drawn  on  stone  by 
W.  Westall  and  J.  D.  Harding  (those  by  Westall  comprise  land- 
scape, architecture,  and  figures) ;  Picturesque  Tour  of  the  River 
Thames,  twenty-four  coloured  aquatints  and  two  vignettes  'from 
original  drawings  taken  on  the  spot  by  Wm.  Westall  and  Samuel 
Owen,'  folio,  Ackermann,  1828  (twenty  are  by  Westall,  chiefly  repre- 
seting  gentlemen's  seats  below  Oxford,  and  the  bridges  in  London) ; 
Great  Britain  Illustrated,  '  a  series  of  original  views  from  drawings 
by  William  Westall,  A.R.A.,  engraved  by  and  under  the  direction  of 
Edward  Finden,  with  descriptions  by  Thomas  Moule,  4to,  Tilt,  1830' 
(the  views,  161  in  all,  are  placed  two  on  a  plate,  dated  1828-30; 
editions  dated  1832  and  1834,  in  two  vols.  8vo,  with  119  plates, 
bear  the  prefixed  title  '  Landscape  Album '). 

To  the  steel-plate  annuals  and  drawing-room  books  he  also  con- 
1  The  British  Museum  has  a  unique  copy  with  three  unpublished  plates. 


284 


THE   WATER-COLOUR   SOCIETY,   1805-1812 


r,K  iv 


tributed  views,  of  which  the  following  is  a  (probably  imperfect)  list  : 
In  the  Forget-me-not,  1831,  'The  Boa  Ghaut;'  1834, 'The  Hong 
Merchant's  Garden  '  (eng.  by  E.  Goodall).  In  Tillotson's  Illustrations 
of  Byron,  3  vols.  4to,  1833-4,  '  Cagliari,  Sardinia ; '  '  Newstead  Abbey ,' 
'  The  Fountain  at  Newstead,'  and  '  Hucknell  Church,  Notts  '  (vignettes 
from  'Life  and  Works  of  Byron,'  I2mo,  Murray)  ;  and  another'  New- 
stead  Abbey '  (from  a  sketch  by  C.  Fellows,  Esq.).  In  Tillotson's 
Album  of  Scottish  Scenery,  '  Woodstock '  (from  a  drawing  in  the 
collection  of  George  III.)  and  '  Nidpath  Castle'  (from  a  sketch  by 
F.  Skene),  both  engraved  by  E.  Finden.  In  Tillotson's  New 
Waverley  Album,  '  Windermere.'  In  the  Keepsake  for  1839,  'Byron 
contemplating  the  Coliseum.'  Plates  of  this  kind,  however,  appeared 
and  reappeared,  being  made  to  do  duty  in  successive  publications,  so 
that  it  is  not  easy  to  trace  them  to  the  first  issue.  For  example,  a  print 
of  the  '  Fortress  of  Bowrie '  (from  a  sketch  by  Captain  Auber)  in 
Emma  Roberts's  Hindostan,  2  vols.  4to,  1845,  ma7  also  be  found  in 
Fisher's  Drawing-room  Scrap  Book  for  1836,  itself  a  receptacle  for 
plates  already  published  elsewhere.  Westall  also  did  some  work 
for  the  illustrated  pocket-books.1 

1  Dr.  Percy's  Sale  Catalogue,  Lot  1431. 


BOOK   V 

THE  OIL  AND    WATER  COLOUR  SOCIETY 
1813-1820 


CHAPTER    I 

A   NEW   SOCIETY 

Reconstitution— Oil  pictures,  portraits,  and  sculpture  admitted — Non-members  allowed  to 
exhibit — Claim  of  continuity— Changes  of  personnel—  An  independent  water-colour 
exhibition— Final  biographies  of  retiring  Members— Nicholson — Gilpin — Holworthy. 

IN  strictness  it  may  be  insisted  that  by  the  end  of  the  year  1812  the 
original  Society  of  Painters  in  Water-Colours  had  ceased  to  exist. 
But  the  severance  of  its  ties  was  not  an  absolute  disruption.  The 
Members  of  whom  it  had  been  composed  divided  themselves  into  two 
opposing  factions,  consisting  respectively  of  those  who  favoured,  and 
those  who  dissented  from,  the  scheme  of  admitting  oil  pictures  to  the 
future  exhibitions.  The  reforming  party  had  already  taken  measures 
to  carry  into  effect  the  resolutions  which  they  had  succeeded  in  passing 
on  the  1 6th  of  November.  For  between  that  date  and  the  final  meet- 
ing of  the  3Oth,  namely  on  the  26th  of  that  month,  the  following 
group  had  assembled  at  John  Varley's  house,  in  Broad  Street,  Golden 
Square,  in  order  to  form  '  a  society  for  the  purpose  of  establishing  an 
exhibition  consisting  of  pictures  in  oil  and  water  colours.'  Nicholson 
took  the  chair,  and,  besides  him,  there  were  present,  of  the  original 
set,  Barret,  Cristall,  Havell,  Holworthy,  and  John  and  Cornelius 
Varley ;  with  Smith  and  Uwins,  the  Associate  Fielding,  and  two 
artists  who  had  not  hitherto  joined  the  Society,  namely  James  Holmes 
and  John  Linnell.  It  was  then  and  there  resolved  that  the  new  body 
should  consist  of  twenty  Members,  and  that  a  select  number  of  other 
artists  should  be  specially  invited  to  contribute  to  the  exhibitions,  but 
that  the  gallery  should  not  be  thrown  open  to  the  profession  in  general. 


286      THE    OIL   AND    WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,    1813-1820        BK.  V 

At  another  meeting,  held  two  days  after  at  the  same  place,  it  was  re- 
solved that,  '  notwithstanding  the  promiscuous  admission  of  works  in 
oil  and  water  colours,'  it  should  '  always  be  considered  a  leading 
principle  that  in  the  arrangement  of  the  exhibition  the  two  classes  be 
kept  separate  and  distinct,'  the  centre  of  the  room  being  devoted 
exclusively  to  paintings  in  water-colours.  It  was  moreover  agreed, 
according  to  a  plan  suggested  by  Glover,  who  had  now  joined  the 
confederacy,  that  the  arrangement  and  division  should  be  so  con- 
trived that  the  public  might  be  compelled  to  pass  through  the  water-, 
colour  department  before  conning  to  the  pictures  in  oil.1 

On  the  3rd  of  December,  the  old  Society  having  in  the  mean  time 
been  formally  dissolved,  the  promoters  of  the  new  one  met  again  at 
Glover's  in  Montagu  Square,  and  drew  up  the  following  list  of 
Members,  to  constitute  the  '  Society  of  Painters  in  Oil  and  Water 
Colours ' : — 


George  Barret 
Joshua  Cristall 
David  Cox 

A.  V.  Copley  Fielding 
James  Holworthy 
John  Varley 
Francis  Nicholson 
John  Linnell 


John  Glover 

Miss  Harriet  Gouldsmith 
William  Havell 
James  Holmes 
Cornelius  Varley 
William  Turner 
Thomas  Uwins 
John  Smith 


On  the  I7th  Nicholson  was  elected  President ;  Smith,  Secretary; 
Barret,  Treasurer ;  and  Uwins,  C.  Varley,  Glover  and  Cristall  were 
chosen  to  constitute  the  first  Committee.  To  the  above  Members  were 
added  by  election  on  the  4th  and  i8th  of  February,  1813,  respectively, 
Frederick  Mackenzie  and  Henry  Richter.  The  artists  whose  names 
are  in  italics  had  not  been  connected  with  the  defunct  Society  ;  and 
Fielding  and  Cox  had  been  admitted  thereto  as  Associates  only,  the 
latter  not  having  even  exhibited  in  its  gallery. 

Atkinson,  Pugin,  Nash,  Scott,  Clennell,  and  C.  Barber  now  ex- 
pressed themselves  as  favourable  to  the  views  of  the  reconstituted 
Society,  and  they  all  exhibited  with  it,  though  they  did  not  join  it  as 
Members.  Heaphy,  Nash,  and  De  Wint,  as  well  as  Clennell,  had  been 
invited  to  become  Members  ;  but  Heaphy  held  aloof  altogether,  and 

1  Such  favouring  of  the  water-colours  afterwards  gave  rise  to  complaints  of  injustice  to  the 
oil.     See  Elmes's  Annals  of  the  Fine  Arts  (1820),  pp.  140,  170. 


CH.  I  A   NEW    SOCIETY  287 

the  other  three  contented  themselves  with  aiding  it  as  exhibitors 
only,  as  did  also  the  former  Members,  Miss  Byrne,  Dorrell,  Stevens, 
and  Wild. 

The  promoters  of  the.  new  Society  proceeded  to  draw  up  a  set  of 
rules,  retaining  for  the  most  part  the  original  code,  as  far  as  it  could 
be  applied  to  the  new  conditions.  They  obtained  a  transfer  of  the 
intermittent  lease  of  the  Spring  Gardens  Gallery,  took  at  a  valuation 
the  plant  and  fittings  of  their  predecessors,  and  prepared  to  open  an 
exhibition  in  the  following  spring.  Invitations  to  contribute  were 
sent  to  several  artists  of  repute,  as  well  as  to  their  old  colleagues,  and 
the  scope  of  the  exhibition  was  extended  so  as  to  admit  (with  the  oil 
paintings)  not  only  portraits  and  miniatures,  but  a  few  designs  in 
sculpture.  Non-members  were,  as  before,  nominally  restricted  to  five 
works  apiece,  but  the  number  was  afterwards  extended  to  eight. 
Twenty-nine  non-members  co-operated  with  the  eighteen  Members, 
making  forty-seven  exhibitors  in  all ;  and  the  number  of  works  brought 
together  was  250  of  all  kinds,  the  great  majority  being  still  by  artists 
who  had  earned  their  chief  celebrity  as  painters  in  water-colours. 

Although  the  original  Society  had  in  reality  been  dissolved,  it 
seems  to  have  been  the  policy  of  the  new  one,  by  clothing  itself  as 
far  as  possible  with  the  same  external  aspect,  to  hide  the  breach  of 
continuity  which  had  in  fact  occurred.  The  words  '  oil  and '  are 
prefixed  to  those  of '  water  colours  '  on  the  title-page  of  the  catalogue  ; 
but  in  typographical  details  and  general  appearance  it  is  similar  to 
those  which  had  gone  before  it,  and  the  exhibition  of  1813  is  boldly 
numbered  as  '  The  Ninth.'  Moreover,  an  advertisement  is  there 
inserted,  in  the  following  words,  which  will  not  bear  a  close  com- 
parison with  the  records  contained  in  the  minute-books,  from  which 
chiefly  the  foregoing  account  has  been  compiled  :  '  THE  SOCIETY  OF 
PAINTERS  IN  WATER-COLOURS  stimulated  by  Public  Encourage- 
ment, and  gaining  Confidence  from  Success,  have  ventured  this  year 
on  a  considerable  extension  of  their  Plan.  Pictures  in  Oil  and  in 
Water  Colours,  Portraits,  Models,  and  Miniatures  are  admitted  into 
the  present  Exhibition  ;  and  should  these  increased  efforts  receive 
from  the  Public  that  liberal  support  which  has  always  accompanied 
the  former  exertions  of  this  Society,  every  Year  may  produce  fresh 
sources  of  Amusement,  and  each  succeeding  Exhibition  become  more 
worthy  of  Approbation  and  Patronage.'  Notwithstanding  the  proposed 
contrivances  to  ensure  the  prominence  of  the  water-colour  drawings, 


288     THE   OIL  AND   WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,   1813  1820        UK.  v 

and  their  due  presentation  to  an  eye  unfatigued  with  the  glare  of  oil, 
there  is  no  distinction  at  all  in  the  catalogues  between  the  two  classes, 
so  that  it  is  impossible  to  tell  therefrom  in  which  material  any  given 
work  was  painted.1 

Under  the  above  conditions,  exhibitions  were  held  for  the  next 
eight  years,  1813  to  1820,  in  this  'great  room'  at  Spring  Gardens. 
They  constitute  the  second  period,  upon  which  we  now  enter,  in  the 
annals  of  our  present  history.  It  will  be  narrated  how,  at  the  close  of 
that  period,  the  Society  reverted  to  the  original  scheme,  and  became 
once  more  a  body  of  painters  in  water-colours  only. 

The  following  further  changes  in  the  personnel  of  the  Society  took 
place  before  the  close  of  the  first  year.  Nicholson,  notwithstanding  the 
prominent  part  he  had  taken  in  forming  and  inaugurating  the  new 
Society,  tendered  his  resignation  in  the  November  of  1813,  and  sent 
nothing  to  the  exhibition  of  the  following  year.  He  was,  however, 
specially  permitted  to  exhibit  as  a  '  Member '  in  1815,  after  which  year 
his  name  disappears  from  the  catalogues.  Richter,  too,  threw  up  his 
Membership  in  December  1813,  but  gave  help  for  some  time  after 
as  an  occasional  Exhibitor,  and  eventually,  as  we  shall  see,  rejoined 
the  Society.  Two  new  Members,  however,  were  elected  in  the  same 
month,  namely,  George  Fennel  Robson,  and  the  former  President  of 
1805,  William  Sawrey  Gilpin.  But  the  latter  name  is  attached  to 
five  drawings  only  in  1814,  with  'no  effects'  in  1815,  and  then  dis- 
appears altogether. 

There  was  a  rule  (not  always  strictly  enforced)  that  every  Member 
should  contribute  one  work  at  least  to  each  exhibition.  In  1814, 
Holworthy,  having  failed  to  do  so,  was  called  upon  to  explain,  and 
thereupon  resigned.  In  the  catalogue  for  the  same  year  we  find  the 
name  of  William  Havell  transferred  from  the  list  of  Members  to  that 
of  Exhibitors.  After  1816  it  is  not  to  be  found  again  for  a  long 
series  of  years.  In  1827  he  returned  to  the  Society  for  a  short  period. 
But  Nicholson,  Gilpin,  and  Holworthy  were  leaving,  or  shortly  to 
leave,  it  for  good  and  all. 

We  are  left  in  the  dark  as  to  the  circumstances  of  Nicholson's 
retirement,  and  it  is  somewhat  of  a  surprise  to  come  upon  his  name 
in  a  group  of  separatists  from  the  body  of  his  old  colleagues.  It 
seems  that,  after  the  abandonment  by  the  original  Society  of  their 

1  In    1813,  Glover,  Hills,  Turner,  Havell,  and  J.  Varlcy  had  oil  pictures.     (Papworth 
MS.)     In  1818  about  half  were  in  oils.     (Literary  Gaset/c.) 


CH.  I  A    NEW   SOCIETY  289 

attempt  to  maintain  an  exclusive  exhibition  of  water-colour  drawings, 
an  independent  effort  was  made  to  set  on  foot  an  annual  gathering  of 
the  kind;  and  with  this  view  a  gallery  was  opened  'at  the  Public 
Room,  New  Bond  Street'  (No.  23),  in  1814,  with  an  exhibition 
of  193  '  Paintings  in  Water-Colours,'  which  the  promoters  declared 
to  be  '  unconnected  with  any  Society  or  Establishment  whatever.' 
Several  of  the  old  Society's  Members  (including  its  Presidents  for 
1813  and  1814)  were  among  the  contributors.  F.  Nicholson  had 
21  works,  F.  Nash  II,  5.  Rigaud  9,  and  J.  Smith  3.  Some,  whose 
names  had  been  included  with  the  'Associated  Artists'  in  1808, 
were  also  of  the  number.  A  second  exhibition  opened  there  in 
1815,  on  the  3rd  of  May,  with  205  works,  including  3  by  Nicholson, 
3  by  Nash,  and  4  by  Wild.  Several  artists  who  had  yet  to  win 
their  spurs  as  Members  of  our  own  Society,  were  contributors  to 
these  exhibitions.1  But  it  was  the  same  old  story.  Already  it  was 
found  necessary  to  eke  out  the  attraction  by  admitting  some  oil 
paintings,  together  with  a  few  '  old  masters ; '  and  we  hear  nothing 
more  of  the  venture.2 

FRANCIS  NICHOLSON,  at  the  time  of  his  retirement,  had  exhibited 
277  works  on  the  Society's  walls,  in  numbers  varying  from  13  (in 
1815  3)  to  41  (in  1809);  having  been  absent  but  one  season,  that  of 
1814.  The  subjects  embraced  views  among  the  mountains  and  lakes 
of  Wales  and  Scotland,  Yorkshire  abbeys,  Chedder  rocks,  and  hills 
and  vales  of  Lynton  and  Lynmouth  ;  with  a  shipwreck  or  two  at 
Scarborough,  and,  latterly,  a  few  foreign  views,  done  from  sketches  by 
amateurs.  Sir  Thomas  Dyke  Acland,  Bart. ;  Sir  Richard  Colt 
Hoare,  Bart.,  and  John  Thornton,  Esq.,  supplied  some  of  these, 
Nicholson's  original  study  of  nature,  like  that  of  most  of  his  brother 
landscape  painters  in  the  war-time,  having  been  confined  to  his  own 
well-stored  country.  There  are  two  Irish  views  in  1812  and  1813, 
from  sketches  by  Sir  Thomas  Gage,  Bart.  The  artist  himself  is  not 
known  to  have  been  in  Ireland  ;  but  his  son  Alfred,  who,  after  serving 
in  the  navy,  followed  his  father's  profession  as  a  water-colour  painter 

1  Samuel  Prout  had  10  works  in  1814,  and  18  in  1815.  To  the  first  exhibition 
G.  F.  Rohson  contributed  2  ;  and  in  the  second  J.  D.  Harding\\a&  5,  and  H.  Gastineau  4. 

*  Catalogues  of  the  two  exhibitions  are  preserved  in  the  Library  at  the  South  Kensington 
Museum  under  the  William  Smith  bequest. 

*  As  one  (and  one  only)  of  these  thirteen  works  is  described  in  the  catalogue  as  '  painted 
in  water-colours,'  it  is  to  be  inferred  that  the  remaining  twelve   were  in  oil. 

U 


290       THE    OIL   AND   WATER    COLOUR    SOCIETY,  1813-1820        BK.  v 

and  teacher  of  drawing,  made  many  sketches  in  the  Emerald  Isle, 
during  a  residence  there  of  three  or  four  years  commencing  in  i8i3.1 

John  Landseer,  writing  in  1808,  observes  of  our  painter's  art : 
'  Mr.  Nicholson  generally  chooses  to  paint  romantic  rocks  and  water- 
falls and  lake  scenery,  of  which  there  are  several  pictures  in  the 
present  Exhibition,  and  in  our  opinion  his  generalized  style  is  far 
better  suited  to  such  subjects  than  to  subjects  where  (as  in  Gothic 
architecture)  portraiture  in  detail  is  more  imperiously  required.' 2 

Pyne,  writing  in  1823,  records,  in  words  before  quoted,  his  ob- 
servations on  the  influence  of  Nicholson's  drawings  upon  the  landscape 
school  of  his  day,  when  the  results  of  his  new  technical  processes 
came  to  be  displayed.  And  the  critic  adds  that  although  each 
professor  '  continued  to  pursue  his  own  particular  style,  yet  the  ex- 
ample of  such  works,  exhibiting,  as  they  did,  powers  and  capacities 
in  the  materials  with  which  they  were  wrought,  that  had  been  de- 
veloped by  '  Nicholson  '  alone,  acted  as  a  stimulus  to  their  exertions.' 3 
Nicholson  himself  was  fond  of  strong,  bold  effects  of  light  and  shade. 
He  considered  Claude's  gradation  of  light '  tame  and  almost  insipid,' 
preferring  the  sudden  gleams,  or  '  accidents '  as  he  called  them,  of 
G.  Poussin,  Rembrandt,  Rubens,  and  Wilson.  The  chiaroscuro  of 
Reynolds,  Wilson,  Barret,  and  Gainsborough,  was,  in  his  opinion, 
carried,  in  principle  and  practice,  to  a  greater  degree  of  perfection 
than  was  ever  attained  by  the  Venetian  painters.  These  views  ap- 
pear in  an  elaborate  treatise  on  his  art,  which  he  published  after 
ceasing  to  be  a  Member  of  our  Society,  under  the  following  title  : 
Tlie  Practice  of  Drawing  and  Painting  Landscape  from  Nature  in  Water- 
Colours,  '  exemplified  in  a  series  of  instructions  calculated  to  facilitate 
the  progress  of  the  learner,  including  the  elements  of  Perspective, 
their  application  in  sketching  from  nature,  the  explanation  of  various 
processes  of  colouring,  for  producing  from  the  outline  a  finished  pic- 
ture, with  observations  on  the  study  of  nature,  and  various  other 
matters  relating  to  the  Arts.  By  Francis  Nicholson.  London,  1820.' 
The  author  dedicated  his  book  to  the  Hon.  Mrs.  Fortescue,  with  a 
compliment  to  her  proficiency  in  art,  and  thanks  for  '  numerous 
favours  and  acts  of  kindness  from  her  and  her  family.'  So  he  was 
still  in  the  enjoyment  of  high  patronage  among  amateurs  of  the 
brush. 

1  Redgrave's  Dictionary.  *  Review  of  Publications  in  Art,  p.  199. 

3  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  30,  31. 


CH.  I  A    NEW    SOCIETY  291 

With  the  exception  of  eighteen,  noted  by  Graves  between  1789  and 
1833  at  other  galleries,  Nicholson  confined  the  exhibition  of  his 
works  to  that  of  the  Water-Colour  Society.  But  he  continued  to 
teach,  by  example  as  well  as  by  precept.  His  treatise  passed  quickly 
through  several  and  enlarged  editions  ;  and  he  took  advantage  of  the 
newly  invented  process  of  lithography  to  put  a  large  number  of 
drawings,  several  hundred  it  is  said,  upon  stone,  which,  serving  as 
'  copies '  for  students,  have  been  thumbed  and  torn  and  worn  away 
like  old  school  books,  and  consequently  become  rare.  Among  his 
views  so  executed  are  eighty-one  large  lithographs  from  Sketches  of 
British  Scenery,  obi.  folio,  1821,  and  Six  Views  of  Scarborough,  imp. 
folio,  1822. 

Besides  the  earlier  ones  already  mentioned,  engravings  after 
Nicholson's  drawings  may  be  found  in  the  following  works  :  Tn  the 
Beauties  of  England  and  Wales  are  '  Porchester  Castle,'  1 805  ;  two 
views  of  '  Netley  Abbey,'  1805,  1806,  both  from  sketches  by  Dayes  ; 
'St.  Vincent's  Rocks,  near  Clifton,'  1806,  and  '  Prudhoe  Castle,1  1811. 
In  Havell's  aquatints  of  Noblemen's  and  Gentlemen's  Seats  is  '  Pan- 
theon, Stourhead  Gardens'  (Mr.  Colt  Hoare),  1817.  In  the  Northern 
Cambrian  Mountains,  folio,  1820,  are  'Rhaiadyr  y  Wennol '  (No.  31) 
and  '  Denbigh  Castle '  (No.  36),  both  highly  coloured  aquatints,  by 
T.  Fielding,  I  May,  1820.  In  Facsimiles  of  Water-Colour  Drawings, 
published  by  Bowyer,  1825,  are  'Robin  Hood's  Bay1  (PI.  4),  'Ship- 
wreck near  Scarborough '  (PI.  7),  '  Dropping  Well,  Knaresborough ' 
(PI.  9). 

'  Eminent  as  was  his  position  as  an  artist,'  says  Ottley, '  he  was 
also  distinguished  for  his  practical  knowledge  in  mechanics,  music, 
optics,  chemistry,  which  led  him  often  to  try  experiments,  often 
highly  interesting  in  their  result.  It  was  his  practice  to  paint  upon 
unbleached  paper,  and  to  use  water-colours,  the  durability  of  which 
his  experience  had  established.  Some  of  his  experimental  drawings 
after  thirty  or  forty  years'  probation  remained  as  fresh  and  full  in 
colour  as  when  they  were  first  executed.' ' 

The  latter  years  of  Nicholson's  life  present  an  agreeable  picture 
of  ease  and  enjoyment  of  a  competency  acquired  by  successful 
industry.  Long  retired  from  professional  practice,  he  continued  to 
use  the  pencil  for  his  own  pleasure,  and  to  amuse  himself  with  his 
trials  of  colours  and  vehicles.  He  had  had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing 

1  Supplement  to  Bryan's  Dictionary  of  Painters  &>c.  (1876). 

U  2 


292        THE    OIL   AND   WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1813-1820       BK.  v 

some  at  least  of  his  talent  inherited  in  another  generation.  But  the 
picture  is  saddened  by  the  death  in  1833,  after  a  painful  illness,  of  the 
son  already  mentioned.  A  daughter  exhibited  two  Scotch  land- 
scapes at  Spring  Gardens  in  1815  ;  and  another  son  appears  to  have 
been  the  draftsman  of  two  series  of  lithographs  entitled  respectively, 
Six  Views  of  Picturesque  Scenery  in  Goathland,  folio,  10  Oct.  1821  ; 
and  Six  Views  of  Picturesque  Scenery  in  Yorkshire,  10  Sep.  1822, 
published  at  Malton.1 

Nicholson  continued  to  reside  in  Upper  Titchfield  Street  till  1806, 
from  which  date  till  1810  his  address  is  i  Great  Chesterfield  Street, 
Marylebone.  In  1811  he  moves  to  52  Charlotte  Street,  Portland 
Place,  where  he  continued  to  reside  until  his  death  there  on  the  6th 
of  March,  1844,  at  the  ripe  age  of  fourscore  and  ten.  From  internal 
evidence,  the  autobiographical  notes  so  largely  quoted  from  in  an 
earlier  part  of  this  history  appear  to  have  been  written  during  the 
last  five  years  of  his  life.  They  would  thus  indicate  a  remarkable 
retention  of  memory. 

The  highest  price  recorded  by  Mr.  Redford  in  his  Art  Sales  for 
one  of  Nicholson's  drawings  is  ioi/.  i?s.  for  a  'Stirling  Castle' 
(13  x  1 8  in.),  painted  in  1806,  and  sold  in  1869  at  that  price. 

Of  WILLIAM  SAWREY  GILPIN  there  is  little  more  to  relate.  He 
exhibited  in  all  eighty-three  works  with  the  Society,  including  five  in 
1815,  in  annual  numbers  of  from  three  (in  1809)  to  twenty  (in  1805) 
during  his  membership.  In  his  post  of  drawing  master  at  the 
Military  College  he  was  transferred  with  the  college  from  Great 
Marlow  to  Sandhurst,  where  he  was  residing  in  1814  and  1815. 
Except  a  few  early  sketches  at  the  Lakes  of  Killarney,  his  subjects 
are  chiefly  confined  to  ordinary  views  about  his  home  on  the  Thames, 
and  in  Kent,  Surrey,  and  Hampshire,  and  the  Isle  of  Wight,  with  a 
few  about  Cheltenham  and  in  Glamorganshire.  After  leaving  the 
Society  he  devoted  himself  to  the  art  of  landscape  gardening,  both 
in  its  theory  and  practice,  and  '  obtained  almost  a  monopoly '  therein. 
'  His  principal  works  were  in  Ireland  at  Crum  Castle,  Enniskillen 
Castle,  and  the  seats  of  Lord  Cawdor  and  Lord  Blayney  ;  in  England 
he  laid  out  the  gardens  of  Dansfield,  near  Henley-on-Thames,  and  at 
Sir  E.  Kerrison's  seat  near  Hoxne,  Suffolk.' 2  He  moreover  published 

1  See  Dr.  Percy's  MS.  Catalogue. 

2  Dictionary  of  National  Biography. 


CH.  I  A    NEW   SOCIETY  293 

a  volume  entitled  Practical  Hints  upon  Landscape  Gardening ;  witli 
some  Remarks  on  Domestic  Architecture,  as  connected  with  Scenery,  8vo, 
London,  1832,  with  lithographic  illustrations.  He  married  Elizabeth 
Paddock,  by  whom  he  left  two  sons.  His  death,  at  the  age  of  eighty- 
one,  occurred  in  1 843,  at  Sedbury  Park,  in  Yorkshire. 

JAMES  HOLWORTHY  had  not  been  a  large  exhibitor.  His  name 
had  appeared  in  each  year's  catalogue,  but  the  total  number  of  the 
works  to  which  it  is  appended  is  only  twenty-nine.  They  represent 
picturesque  stock  subjects  in  England  and  Wales,  ruined  castles  pre- 
dominating. Redgrave  says  that  he  continued  to  practise  in  London 
up  to  1822.  On  the  i5th  of  October,  1821,'  he  married,  at  Hastings, 
Miss  Anne  Wright,  an  artist  daughter  of  Richard  Wright,  M.D.,  who 
was  an  elder  brother  of  the  painter  Joseph  Wright,  commonly  called 
'  Wright  of  Derby.'  He  then  retired  into  the  country,  having  pur- 
chased some  property  called  the  Brookfield  estate,  near  Hathersage,  in 
the  county  of  Derby,  where  he  built  Brookfield  House.  There  was 
no  issue  of  the  marriage,  which  was  severed  by  his  death  on  the  loth 
of  June,  1841,  followed  in  the  next  year  by  that  of  his  widow.  His 
grave  is  at  Kensal  Green.2 

1  Redgrave  assigns  the  date  1824  to  Ihis  event. 

*  See  The  Life  and  Works  of  Wright  of  Derby,  by  William  Bemrose,  folio  (1885),  p.  4. 


294        THE   OIL  AND   WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1813-1820       KK.  v 


CHAPTER   II 

MEMBERS  OF   THE  OLD  SOCIETY 

Retrospect  in  1820— Further  biographies  of  old  Members — Havell — Pocock—J.   Smith — 
Barret—  Cristall—Glmier— Hills. 

THE  reader  being  reminded  of  the  division  of  this  history,  so  far, 
into  two  periods  of  eight  years,  the  first  from  1 805  to  1812,  when  the 
annual  exhibitions  were  confined  to  paintings  or  drawings  in  water- 
colours  ;  the  second  from  1813  to  1820,  when  oil  pictures  and  other 
works  of  art  were  admitted  also,  and  of  the  fact  above  stated,  that  at 
the  end  of  the  second  period  the  Society  reverted  to  the  scheme 
adopted  during  the  first ;  and  a  more  detailed  account  being  for  the 
present  deferred  of  the  circumstances  which  led  to  and  attended  this 
reform  ;  the  last-mentioned  date  will  now  be  taken  as  a  convenient 
standpoint  from  which  to  cast  a  retrospective  glance  at  the  pro- 
ceedings of  the  Society,  and  the  doings  of  its  Members  and  other 
Exhibitors,  to  that  epoch. 

In  this  year  1820,  Pocock  was  seventy-nine,  and  'Warwick' 
Smith  seventy-one.  Barret,  Cristall,  and  Glover  were  each  fifty-three 
years  old,  and  Hills  was  fifty-one.  John  Varley  was  forty-two ; 
Pugin  and  Dorrell  were  nearly  as  old ;  and  Wild,  Nash,  and  Uwins 
followed  at  about  thirty-eight.  Then  came  a  younger  and  rising 
race  of  artists,  some  of  them  not  hitherto  mentioned.  De  Wint,  Cox, 
and  Prout  were  about  six  years  younger  than  Varley  ;  and  Fielding, 
Robson,  and  Turner,  younger  again  by  a  somewhat  shorter  interval, 
the  last-named  being  thirty-one.  Three  years  before  this,  Pocock 
had  finally  ceased  to  exhibit,  and  Glover  had  abandoned  the  Society, 
under  circumstances  yet  to  be  related.  Uwins,  too,  had  retired  the 
year  after,  and  Dorrell's  name  had  appeared  for  the  last  time  in  the 
catalogue,  in  1819.  Havell,  as  aforesaid,  had  given  up  his  member- 
ship in  1813,  and  exhibited  nothing  since  1816.  The  biographies  of 
these  first  Members  have  now  to  be  continued  to  the  epochs  named. 


CH.  II  MEMBERS   OF   THE    OLD    SOCIETY  295 

WILLIAM  HAVELL  had  not  now  taken  his  final  leave ;  but  the 
Society  was  in  another  phase  of  its  history  when  he  afterwards  re- 
joined it.     Since  he  had  been  received  as  one  of  its  first  Members,  he 
had  not  only  justified  his  position  by  the  quality  of  his  contributions, 
but  had   taken  a  place  in  the  leading  rank  as  an  artist  in  landscape. 
His  compositions,  says  Pyne,  '  were  much  admired  even  in  the  first 
year's  exhibition  in  Brook  Street,  whilst  he  was  yet  a  very  young 
man.     He  had  already  proved  himself  an  attentive  observer  of  nature 
for  his  landscape  subjects  were  well  chosen,  and  truly  characteristic 
of  English  scenery.  .  .  .  Havell,  however,  was  not  contented  with  an 
occasional  trip  from  London,  to  snatch  a  new  hint,  by  hasty  sketching 
from  real  scenes,  to  work  into  pictures  at  his  return,  as  many  had  done  : 
he  wisely  determined  to  remove  to  some  picturesque  spot,  where  he 
might  sojourn  awhile,  and   at  leisure  contemplate  nature  under  the 
changes  of  each  season,  and  attired  in  all  the  varieties  of  her  rich 
wardrobe.     He  selected  the  beautiful  region  of  the  lakes  in  Cumber- 
land, and  took  up  his  quarters  in  a  little  town  in  the  very  bosom  of 
romantic  nature.  .  .  .  Here  he  studied  for  two  years,  when  he  returned 
to  London  with  rich  stores  of  lake  and  mountain  scenery,  from  which 
for  several  seasons,  he  enriched  the  exhibition,  added  to  his  own  fame, 
and  contributed  to  raise  the  general  reputation  of  his  department  of 
art.'      It  was  in  1807  that  he  thus  went  to  Westmoreland,  to  reside 
for  more  than  a  year  in  a  cottage  at  Ambleside.     'We  remember, 
among  these  Cumberland  views,'  continues  his  old  friend  and  colleague, 
'  some  which  were  remarkable  for  depth  and  harmony  of  effect,  and 
nearer   to    reality    than    the  compositions  of  any  of  his    compeers. 
Indeed,    the    richness    and    intensity    of  colouring   in    some   of    his 
happiest  works  suffered  but    little  in  comparison  with  paintings  in 
oil,  a  consequence  that  resulted  from  his  continual  practice  of  paint- 
ing his  effects  on  the  spot.     These  drawings,  though  broad  in  effect 
and  bold  in  execution,  yet  were  highly  wrought,  being  the  result  of 
careful  study  and  much  labour,'  and  possessed  qualities  of  richness 
and  harmony  '  only  to  be  effected  by  reiterated   touching,  tinting, 
and  glazing.' ' 

Between  1805  and  1812  Havell  exhibited  114  drawings  at  the  old 
Society;  and  at  Spring  Gardens  in  1813-16  he  had  twenty-two 
works,  one  or  more  of  which  were  in  oil,  making  136  in  all.  After 
the  first  year  or  two,  his  views  in  Wales  are  gradually  superseded  by 

1  Somerset  ffousi  Gazette,  i.  193. 


296       THE    OIL   AND   WATER    COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1813-1820        EK.  V 

those  at  the  English  Lakes  ;  which,  alternating  with  scenes  on  the 
Thames,  chiefly  about  Cavcrsham  and  Henley,  and  his  native  town  of 
Reading,  interspersed  with  a  few  rustic  figure  groups;  form  nearly  all  the 
subjects  of  his  pencil  during  this  period.  Some  of  these  treatments 
of  home  subjects  in  his  early  time  are  perpetuated  in  A  Series  oj 
Picturesque  Views  of  the  River  Thames  '  from  the  Drawings  of  Williar 
Havell  ;  Dedicated  to  the  Commissioners  of  the  Thames  Navigation, 
by  their  humble  servant  Robert  Havell.'  Published  i  May,  1812. 
It  contains  twelve  coloured  aquatint  plates  (14  x  20  in.)  and  a  vignette 
of  the  source,  engraved  by  R.  and  D.  Havell. 

Two  or  three  exhibited  studies  of  sea-boats  and  fishermen,  and 
view  of  the  castle,  in  1812-13,  tell  of  a  sojourn  at  Hastings,  where 
married  sister  resided,  and  where  he  sketched  with  David  Cox  in  the 
former  of  those  years.  Havell  was  then,  says  Cox's  biographer, 
'  beginning  to  turn  his  attention  to  oils.' ' 

Of  his  success  in  that  material  we  have  the  recorded  opinion  of 
Uwins,  who,  in  describing  to  a  friend  the  exhibition  of  1815,  wrote 
thus  of  one  of  his  pictures,  which,  strange  to  say,  was  rejected  by  the 
Directors  of  the  British  Institution  :  '  There  is  one  thing  which  will 
excite  a  great  bustle  among  artists  and  amateurs,  it  is  a  most  extra- 
ordinary picture  of  Havell's,  in  which  he  has  painted  sunshine  so  near  to 
truth  that  it  absolutely  makes  the  eyes  ache  to  look  at  it.  The  artists 
are  all  alarmed,  and  the  patrons  stand  aghast ;  but  Havell,  strong  in 
the  power  of  genius,  goes  on  in  spite  of  all  the  world  combined."  * 
The  picture  was,  doubtless,  one  of  '  Walnut-gathering  at  Petersham, 
near  Richmond,  Surrey,'  of  which  the  painter  is  said  to  have  been 
very  proud,  considering  that  it  even  surpassed  the  work  of  Turner. 

During  his  last  five  years  in  England,  Havell  had  been  engaged 
in  furnishing  a  series  of  small  landscape  designs,  drawn  for  the  most 
part  in  sepia,  for  the  frontispieces  and  monthly  headings  of  the  pages  of 
a  little  annual  pocket-book,  known  as  '  Peacock's  Polite  Repository! 
For  a  long  course  of  years  the  execution  of  the  plates  for  this  and 
similar  works  3  gave  constant  employment  to  the  talent  of  the  late 
John  Pye,  the  eminent  landscape  engraver.  A  collection  of  more 
than  1,300  fine  proof  impressions  of  plates  of  this  class,  exquisitely 

1  Solly's  Life  of  Cox,  pp.  25,  26.     The  writer  says  that  Cox  '  used  to  boast  that  he  painted 
a  sunri?e  in  June,  and  then  awoke  his  friend  by  flinging  pebbles  at  his  window  to  show  what 
he  had  done  while  the  other  slept.' 

2  Memoir  of  Uivins,  i.  37,  38. 

'  There  are  one  or  more  after  Havell  in  the  Royal  Repository,  published  by  Suttaby. 


CH.  II  MEMBERS    OF   THE    OLD    SOCIETY  297 

engraved  by  him  or  under  his  direction,  was  in  1882  presented  by 
his  daughter  to  the  British  Museum,  where  they  may  be  studied  with 
much  profit.  None  among  them  are  more  beautiful  than  those 
designed  by  William  Havell.  When  that  artist  left  England,  after 
supplying  the  volumes  for  the  years  1813  to  1817,  the  pencil  of 
Reinagle  was,  as  before  mentioned,  employed  for  some  years,  in  fact 
until  Havell's  return  in  1829.  Often,  in  these  miniature  topographical 
prints,  Pye,  to  use  his  own  homely  expression  when  speaking  of  the 
engraver's  task  of  so  translating  an  inartistic  sketch  as  to  make  it 
presentable  to  the  eye,  had  '  to  make  a  silk  purse  out  of  a  sow's  ear.' 
But  this  was  not  the  case  with  the  designs  of  his  '  old  friend  William 
Havell.'  Havell,  like  Pye,  was  a  devoted  admirer  of  Turner.  '  The 
knowledge,'  said  he,  '  which  Girtin  and  Turner  had  acquired  of  sun- 
light was  so  completely  developed  in  their  works,  that  it  seemed  to 
have  been  held  in  hand,  and  thrown  into  the  subject  at  pleasure.' 
And  sometimes  in  their  joint  management  of  the  chiaroscuro  of  these 
pocket  landscapes  the  two  devotees  scarcely  fall  short  of  the  great 
object  of  their  common  admiration. 

To  this  period  belong  also  some  contributions  by  William  Havell 
to  a  set  of  coloured  aquatints  engraved  by  Robert  Havell,  entitled 
Picturesque  Views  and  characteristic  Scenery  of  British  Villas,  '  in 
imitation  of  drawings  of  views  of  the  principal  Palaces,  Noblemen's 
Mansions,  and  Gentlemen's  Seats  throughout  Great  Britain  '  (Colnaghi 
&  Co.).  This  work  was  managed  by  Britton.1  In  Cooke's  Picturesque 
Views  on  the  South  Coast  there  is  a  plate  of  '  Hastings,'  dated  1816, 
after  a  drawing  by  Havell  now  at  the  South  Kensington  Museum. 

NICHOLAS  POCOCK,  though  he  would  not  remain  a  Member  in  the 
new  regime,  had  sent  drawings  annually  to  the  mixed  exhibition 
until  1817,  in  which  year  his  address  is  entered  in  the  catalogue  as 
No.  36  St.  James's  Parade,  Bath,  instead  of  the  old  familiar  residence 
in  George  Street,  Hanover  Square,  where  he  had  remained  since  he 
there  played  his  part  in  the  creation  of  the  old  Society.  After  the 
last-mentioned  date,  his  name  appears  no  more. 

He  had  continued  to  illustrate  his  countiy's  naval  annals ;  some 
of  the  drawings  of  his  latest  years  depicting  scenes  in  the  renewed 

1  Elmes's  Annals  of  the  Fine  Arts  (1816).  Other  artists  were  employed  on  the  work 
when  William  Havell  went  abroad.  It  then  appeared  as  Picturesqtte  Views  of  Noblemen's  and 
Gentleme-fs  Seals,  1823,  aquatinted  by  R.  Havell  and  son,  wherein  five  of  the  plates  are 
after  W.  Havell. 


298        THE   OIL   AND   WATER  COLOUR    SOCIETY,  1813-1820       UK.  v 

sea-struggle  with  France,  .and  latterly  with  the  American  navy. 
This  blood-stained  chapter  of  European  history  had  at  length  closed. 
And  Pocock,  in  his  last  year  of  exhibiting,  ends  a  list  of  182  works 
by  depicting  a  calm  at  Broadstairs,  with  three  other  scenes  on  his 
native  shore,  in  none  of  which  is  there  an  enemy  to  be  seen,  save 
'  winter  and  rough  weather.'  He  himself  was  very  soon  to  leave  this 
mortal  scene. 

Besides  these  works,  he  had  exhibited  1 13  at  the  Royal  Academy 
and  25  at  the  British  Institution,  making  320  in  all.  There  are  two 
of  his  sea-fights  at  Hampton  Court,  and  one  is  at  Greenwich  Hospital ; 
but  these  are  oil  pictures.  Many  of  his  marine  subjects  have  been 
engraved  ;  and  he  designed  the  illustrations  to  Miller's  edition  of 
Falconer's  Shipwreck,  8vo,  1811.  These  are  engraved  by  Fittler, 
and  comprise  four  full  plates  and  six  vignettes. 

Old  '  Warwick '  SMITH  had  been  a  constant  exhibitor  since  he 
first  had  courage  to  come  into  the  field  in  1807  ;  though  it  was  said 
that,  as  in  Gilpin's  case,  the  competition  to  which  his  drawings  were 
so  exposed  had  not  increased  his  fame  as  an  artist.  In  earlier  days, 
when  they  were  a  novelty,  their  colouring  had  astonished  the  public, 
and  fascinated  all  who  saw  them.1 

'  But,'  writes  Nicholson,2  '  the  case  was  greatly  altered  on  the 
appearance  of  his  works  in  Brook  Street  by  comparison  with  others. 
Francia  the  artist  said  to  me,  "  These  cannot  be  by  the  Smith  who 
has  so  high  a  reputation."  I  assured  him  they  were  by  no  other. 
It  was  ill  for  him  when  the  public  expressed  the  same  surprise  as 
Francia  had  done.  He  could  not  alter  his  method  of  practice,  and 
probably  thought  it  beneath  him  to  do  so,  or  go  on  like  others  in  the 
endeavour  to  give  strength  of  effect  and  depth  of  colour.  He  stood 
still,  and  was  soon  left  behind.'  Thus  we  hear  little  of  his  works  as 
adding  to  the  attractions  of  the  gallery.  Nevertheless  he  had  had  142 
there  in  all,  varying  in  annual  number  from  two  to  twenty-four.  We 
have  scarcely  any  information  about  him  except  what  may  be  learnt 
from  catalogues.  From  these  we  gather  that  for  the  first  two  or  three 
years  his  stock  of  Italian  sketches  had  afforded  him  ample  material, 
but  that,  being  debarred  .during  the  war  time,  like  our  other  artists, 
from  renewing  that  stock  by  further  trips  abroad,  he  followed  their 

1  Letter  from  Joseph  Farington,  R.A.,  to  Colonel  Machell,  quoted  by  Nicholson, 
J.  J.  J.  MSS.  *  J.  J.  J.  MSS. 


CH.  II  MEMBERS   OF   THE    OLD    SOCIETY  299 

example  by  sketching  in  his  native  land.  In  1 8 IO,  only  two  out  of  his 
fourteen  drawings  are  from  Italy.  North  Wales  subjects  are  numerous, 
appearing  nearly  every  year.  By  1 8 1 1  he  has  been  in  Devon  and 
Somerset,  painting  at  Clovelly  and  about  Exmoor.  It  is  evident, 
however,  that  he  took  the  earliest  opportunity  to  renew  his  acquaint- 
ance with  foreign  scenes  when  the  Continent  was  reopened  to  travellers. 
In  1814  his  views  are  all  again  from  Italy  or  from  Switzerland  and 
France.1  But  they  probably  had  not  the  freshness  and  originality  of 
the  sketches  he  made  while  touring  as  a  young  man  in  the  last 
century  with  the  Earl  of  Warwick.  After  the  last-mentioned  date, 
his  annual  exhibits  are  nearly  all  foreign  views.  He  was,  however, 
getting  old  and  less  active,  and  they  drop  to  an  average  of  five. 

Smith  had  taken  a  leading  part  in  the  Society's  affairs  ;  had  been 
President  in  1814,  1817,  and  1818  ;  Secretary  in  1816  ;  and  Treasurer 
in  1819.  He  had  resided  at  7  St.  George's  Row,  Oxford  Turnpike, 
till  1814  ;  and  from  1815  had  been  at  25  Bryanston  Street,  Portman 
Square. 

An  Exhibitor  in  1816,  1819,  and  1820,  named  G.  or  G.  W.  Smith, 
also  gave  the  latter  address,  and  sent  eleven  views  in  all,  chiefly  fiom 
France  and  Switzerland. 

The  ways  of  GEORGE  BARRET  were  so  unassuming,  and  his  life 
had  been  so  quietly  industrious,  that  his  name  has  not  come  before 
us  so  often  or  so  conspicuously  as  it  deserves.  Nevertheless  he  was 
a  representative  man  among  the  old  water-colour  painters.  The 
series  of  unpretending  views  on  the  Thames  and  in  the  home  counties, 
with  a  few  in  Wales,  which  he  had  exhibited  year  by'  year  since  the 
founding  of  the  Society,  showed  that  the  '  painter's  feeling '  within  him 
(wherein  he  declared  everything  lay) 2  was  based  on  a  deep  sense  of 
the  daily  beauty  of  nature,  and  the  restful  light  that  shines  with 
impartial  ray  on  homely,  as  on  the  most  romantic,  scenes.  He  had 
continued,  as  indeed  he  did  to  the  end,  to  wrestle  with  poverty ;  but, 
while  working  thriftily  to  support  a  wife  and  family,  he  ever  thought 
more  of  putting  gold  into  his  drawings,  than  of  the  amount  of  the 

1  Among  them  are  two  views  of  Elba,  the  place  of  Bonaparte's  short  banishment ;  and 
the  catalogue  for  1814  advertizes  as  '  in  the  press,'  Tht  Journal  of  a  Tour  through  the  Island 
of  Elba,  by  Sir  Richard  Colt  Hoare,  Bart.  Illustrated  by  a  selection  of  views  engraved  in 
the  line  manner,  from  drawings  by  John  Smith,  who  resided  some  time  on  the  Island.' 
(Royal  410,  8  prints,  6x9  inches.) 

!  Century  of  Painters,  i.  491. 


300        THE   OIL   AND    WATER   COLOUR  SOCIETY,   1813-1820       BK.  v 

precious  metal  for  which  those  drawings  might  be  exchanged.  He 
had  continued  to  reside  in  the  same  suburban  quarter  (from  1805  to 
1809  at  20  Lisson  Green,  and  then  at  '  17  Devonshire  Place,1  near 
Paddington  Green  ')  ;  and  the  subjects  of  his  later  exhibited  works 
seemed  to  show  that  his  sketching-ground  was  narrower  than  it  had 
been.  Scenes  from  Wales  become  less  common,  and  there  is  a 
growing  tendency  to  take  the  effect  itself  as  his  motive  rather  than 
the  local  subject  treated  thereunder.  The  titles '  Morning,'  '  Evening," 
'  Moonlight,'  '  Storm  breaking  off,'  and  the  like,  indicate  the  approach 
of  a  period  of  his  art  which  comprised  some  of  his  finest  works  of 
this  kind.  But  it  was  not  necessary  for  him  to  travel  far  in  search  of 
effects.  It  was  no  doubt  his  own  experience  that  prompted  him, 
when,  in  a  practical  work  on  painting  which  he  published  a  few  years 
before  his  death,  he  advised  students  to  watch  the  sunsets  over  the 
Paddington  Canal  from  the  bridge  at  Maida  Hill.  Possibly  the  two 
drawings  in  1820,  to  which  lines  from  Thomson  are  appended  in 
the  catalogue,  called  '  Evening '  and  '  The  Harvest  Moon,'  may  both 
have  been  executed  in  performance  of  the  conditions  of  the  year's 
premium  allotted  to  him  as  hereinafter  to  be  mentioned.  The 
number  of  his  works  in  the  galleries  since  1805  had  been  198,  the 
average  being  about  a  dozen  a  year. 

Some  of  JOSHUA  CRISTALL'S  lines  of  life  still  ran  parallel  to  those 
of  Barret.  Neither  could  ever  do  much  more  than  make  both  ends 
meet  by  following  a  class  of  art  in  which  chaste  and  somewhat  ideal 
sentiment  was  the  pervading  motive,  however  much  their  works  may 
have  been  admired  by  cognoscenti.  They  had  been  neighbours  in 
Paddington,  whither  the  former  had  come  to  reside  in  1810  or  1811. 
He,  too,  was  married,2  but  had  no  family.  His  wife,  whose  maiden 
name  was  Cozens,  had  led  a  life  not  devoid  of  adventure.  She  was 
partly  brought  up  in  France,  having  in  her  girlhood  exchanged  places 

1  Devonshire  Place  appears  to  have  been  at   Maida  Hill,  forming  part  of  the  Edgware 
Road,  in  which  Barret's  house  was  numbered   162  in   1831.     From    1836  the  address  took 
the  form  '  162  Devonshire  Place,  Edgeware  Road,  Paddington.'    The  numbers  are  now  again 
altered. 

2  Mrs.  M'Ketchnie  in  her  MS.  supplies  the  following  bit  of  gossip.      She  says  :  '  He  had 
several  times  thought  of  marrying,  and  went  so  far  with  one  lady,  a  Miss  Trotter,  who  kept 
a  school,  that  he  even  took  apartments  in  the  Strand,  furnished  them,  and  then  changed  his 
mind  !     The  lady  threatened  an  action  ;  they  compromised  ;  he  gave  her  the  furniture  and 
5o/. ,  which  sum  he  did  not  then  possess.     His  long-tried  friends  the  Lacklans  again  helped 
him  in  this  trouble.    She  afterwards  married  a  doctor  and  kept  her  carriage,  but  did  not  live 
long  to  enjoy  it.' 


CH.  II  MEMBERS    OF   THE    OLD   SOCIETY  301 

with  a  young  French  lady,  whom  her  own  family  received  in  England, 
while  she  went  to  dwell  in  that  of  a  French  Marquis  at  the  other's 
home.  There  she  was  caught  in  a  wave  of  the  Revolution,  and  thence 
carried  off  and  detained  for  some  time  in  durance  vile  ;  and  on  her 
release,  she  had  to  make  her  way  home  as  best  she  could  from  the 
then  deserted  chateau  of  her  yet  more  unfortunate  host. 

Mr.  and  Mrs.  Cristall's  marriage  took  place  in  the  summer  of  1812.' 
Cristall  had  then  been  residing  for  about  two  years  at  Maida  Hill, 
Kdgware  Road.  Now  he  removed  to  the  Manor  House,  Paddington 
Green-,  the  residence  of  his  wife's  aunt,  who  kept  a  large  school 
there,  and  by  whom  Miss  Cozens  had  been  brought  up,  when  left  an 
orphan  in  early  life.2  After  this  date  we  find  for  several  years  so 
many  views  on  the  south  coast  of  the  Isle  of  Wight,  that  one  may 
hazard  a  conjecture  that  this  was  one  of  his  favourite  resorts.  And 
we  know  he  had  a  good  friend  and  patron  there  in  Mr.  James  Vine  of 
Puckester,  a  Russian  merchant,  who  possessed  many  of  his  drawings. 

The  Cristalls  are  said  to  have  paid  a  visit  to  Paris,  possibly  in 
1814  or  1815  ;  but  the  gallery  catalogues  contain  no  evidence  of 
travel  beyond  our  artist's  native  shore.  Mrs.  M'Ketchnie  writes : 
'  He  went  to  Scotland  about  1815,  I  think.  He  had  great  enjoyment 
in  this  tour.  The  Scotch  peasantry  he  found  to  possess  so  much  of 
the  Grecian  elegance  and  costume.'3  From  1816  his  address  changes 
to  No.  2  (Lower)  Lisson  Street,  New  Road,  Marylebone  ;  and  there 
he  was  living  and  painting  and  taking  pupils  in  1820.  A  few  classi- 
cal compositions  for  their  use  were,  it  is  said,  published  by  him  at 
Lisson  Street  with  the  date  i8i6.4 

But  the  titles  in  the  gallery  lists  foreshadow  a  change  which  was 
shortly  to  take  place  in  his  habits  of  life.  Views  on  the  Wye  are 
mingled  with  those  in  the  Isle  of  Wight  ;  and,  after  sending  a  single 
portrait  in  1816,  and  another  in  i8i9,he  presents  us  with  no  less  than 
four  in  1820.  It  was,  indeed,  neither  as  a  master  of  landscape,  poetic 
as  his  treatment  thereof  always  was,  nor  of  portraiture,  that  he  stood 

1  The  above  account  is  that  given  to  Mr.  Jenkins  by  Miss  E.  Cristall,  20  May,  1851.     It 
mainly  agrees  with  that  of  Messrs.  Redgrave  in  Century  of  Painters,  i.  511,  except  that  they 
date  the  marriage  a  year  later.     Mr.   Tregellas,  in  the  Dictionary  of  National  Biography, 
says  that  Cristall  married  '  an  accomplished  French  widow  (a  Mrs.  Cousins),  a  lady  of  some 
fortune.' 

2  Century  of  Painters,  \.  511. 

1  There   is  a  sketch  in  the  Scottish  National  Gallery   inscribe;!  'J.   C.    1818.      Loch 
Katerine.'     No.  214. 

1  Dictionary  of  National  Biography.  , 


303        THE   OIL  AND   WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1813-1820       BK.  v 

on  his  own  peculiar  ground.  It  was  as  a  figure  painter  of  pure  classic 
taste  that  he  has  been  introduced  to  the  reader  ;  and  this  character 
he  had  maintained,  less  perhaps  in  subjects  taken  directly  from  the 
mythology  of  the  Greeks  and  Romans,  than  by  developing  a  style  of 
treatment  of  rustic  figures  in  real  life,  which  contrived  to  elevate 
the  subject  without  an  addition  of  false  sentiment,  and  out  of  the 
picturesque  to  evolve  the  beautiful.  Among  the  209  works  which  he 
sent  to  our  gallery  between  1805  and  1820,  a  large  proportion  are 
single  studies  of  the  class  last  above  mentioned,  of  fisher  folk,  cottage 
maidens,  shepherds  and  gleaners,  and  girls  at  the  well.  '  Simplicity 
of  character,'  writes  Pyne  in  1814, 'united  with  grandeur  of  style, 
distinguish  these  designs.' '  The  classic  feeling  which  runs  through 
all  Cristall's  work  is  well  illustrated  by  the  following  comparison  a 
few  years  later  in  a  contemporary  review  :  '  Poussin  found  the  sculp- 
ture of  the  ancients  more  beautiful  and  grand  than  what  he  could  see 
in  nature.  He  therefore  in  too  many  instances  painted  sculptiire. 
Cristall  learned  to  see  nature  in  the  same  point  of  view  in  which  the 
ancients  contemplated  her.'  * 

Sometimes  a  composition  of  figures,  such  as  the  '  Hastings  Fish 
Market '  (possibly  that  now  at  South  Kensington)  and  '  Boats  putting 
off  to  a  Vessel  in  Distress,'  both  exhibited  in  1808,  excited  special 
attention.  The  latter  picture  seems  to  be  the  same  that  was  bought 
by  the  Duke  of  Argyll  for  ioo/.,  probably  that  referred  to  by  the 
Messrs.  Redgrave  as  '  A  Shipwreck  at  Hastings,'  which  they  tell  us 
was  seized  for  a  debt  when  in  the  hands  of  an  engraver,  poor  Cristall 
having  afterwards  to  redeem  it  at  a  heavy  cost,  offending  his  noble 
patron  meanwhile  by  the  delay.3  The  figures  in  these  subjects  were 
studied  some  years  before,  during  a  sojourn  at  Hastings  prescribed 
to  him  for  an  attack  of  nervous  debility.4 

Since  the  first  three  years. (1805  to  1807)  he  had  not  exhibited 
more  than  half  a  dozen  purely  classic  subject  pieces.  They  did  not 
pay  ;  and  it  was  doubtless  under  the  incitement  of  the  premium 
before  mentioned  that  he  painted  the  more  important  work  exhibited 

1  Preface  to  Etchings  of  Rustic  Figures.  2  Magazine  of  the  Fine  Arts,  i.  (1821). 

3  See  Century  of  Painters,  i.  510.  Dorrell  gave  Mr.  Jenkins  the  following  account  of 
this  transaction.  '  Mr.  Cristall,'  he  said,  '  was  advised  to  have  the  picture  engraved  on  a  large 
scale,  which  advice  he  adopted,  and  advanced  go/,  on  the  engraver's  producing  an  unfinished 
proof ;  but,  unfortunately  for  himself  and  the  public,  the  plate  was  never  finished,  nor  could 
Mr.  C.  ever  gain  possession  of  it  or  get  the  money  refunded." 

•  Mrs.  M'Ketchnie'sMS. 


CH.  II  MEMBERS    OF   THE   OLD    SOCIETY  303 

in  1820,  with  the  title,  '  Jupiter  nursed  in  the  Isle  of  Crete  by  the 
Nymphs  and  Corybantes.'  An  outline  etched  by  George  Cooke,  of 
this  composition  of  fourteen  figures,  is  in  the  Magazine  of  the  Fine 
Arts(i82i).1 

One  or  more  of  his  contributions  had  been  oil  pictures,  but  he  was 
not  so  successful  in  that  material  as  in  water-colours.2  Pyne,  writing 
in  1824,  says  that  'late  in  his  career'  Cristall  'attempted  painting  in 
oil,'  but  that,  '  to  stand  up  to  a  great  work  '  was  beyond  his  '  bodily 
strength,'  and  he  was  without  the  '  mastery  over  the  material  and  the 
manual  execution '  only  to  be  acquired  in  a  long  and  arduous  appren- 
ticeship.3 

JOHN  GLOVER,  from  the  first  exhibition  of  1805  to  the  last  to 
which  he  contributed,  that  of  1817,  had  sent  290  works  to  the  gal- 
leries, of  which  number  102  had  been  in  the  mixed  exhibitions,  and 
the  remaining  188  in  the  first  water-colour  period,  1805  to  1812.  His 
prolific  brush  had  never  been  wanting  at  the  annual  shows.  But  at 
the  time  when  the  original  Society  came  to  an  end  he  had  been  rather 
deeply  bitten  with  the  desire,  which  seems  to  have  infected  many  of 
the  water-colour  school  in  these  days  of  its  wavering,  to  achieve  suc- 
cess as  a  painter  in  oil.  It  has  even  been  said  that  the  determination 
to  admit  oil  pictures  to  the  gallery  at  Spring  Gardens  in  1813  was  due 
to  Glover's  later  practice  having  been  chiefly  in  that  material.  This 
does  not,  however,  appear  to  have  been  the  cause  of  his  retirement, 
the  circumstances  whereof  will  be  related  in  a  future  chapter.  Nor  did 
he  attain  much  mastery  over  oils,  with  the  difficulties  of  which,  accord- 
ing to  Pyne,  he  was  unable  successfully  to  contend  ;  his  pictures 
therein  being  '  deficient  in  handling  and  execution,'  however  '  happy  in 
arrangement  and  effect.'  *  '  Glover  has  tumbled  into  oil,'  said  Shee  to 
Constable,  at  the  Academy,  where  there  was  no  very  friendly  feeling 
towards  the  draftsman-painter.  '  His  oil  pictures,'  says  Redgrave, '  are 
less  satisfactory  than  his  water-colour,  and  have  not  improved  with 
age, but  appear  smooth  and  painty.'5  It  is  as  usual  impossible,  except 
in  a  few  instances,  to  say  which  of  his  contributions  to  the  Spring 
Gardens  rooms  were  in  the  one  or  the  other  medium.  Many  of  his 
pictures  do  not  profess  to  represent  particular  scenes.  Where  they  do, 

1  This  subject  was  repeated  by  him  in  1833  and  1847. 

*  See  Elmes's  Annals  of  the  fine  Arts  (1817). 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  195.  *  Ibid.  ii.  82. 

*  Dictionary  of  the  English  School. 


304        THE   OIL   AND    WATER   COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1813-1820       BK.  v 

the  subjects  suffice  to  give  some  indication  of  his  favourite  haunts 
for  sketching  purposes.  Views  in  the  English  Lake  district  arc  largely 
present  throughout,  with  scarcely  a  year's  intermission.  In  1808,  a 
large  proportion  of  subjects  from  South,  and  in  1 809  from  North  Wales, 
point  back  to  foregoing  visits  to  these  picturesque  resorts,  and  in  1814 
a  similar  preponderance  of  views  of  Matlock  show  a  recent  sojourn 
there.  But  if  so,  these  were  not  first  visits,  for  among  his  drawings  at 
the  Royal  Academy  in  1801  and  1803  had  been  some  from  all  three 
localities.  Except  a  view  of  Mount  Olympus  in  1813,  doubtless 
from  a  sketch  by  some  other  hand,  his  subjects  are  all  from  Great 
Britain;  until  1815,  when  we  find  among  his  eighteen  pictures  (or 
drawings)  a  view  on  the  Rhine,  which  he  calls  '  Drackenfeldts  and 
Gotesberg  Castles." 

Whatever  may  have  been  its  quality,  the  appearance  of  this 
exhibit  may  be  considered  as  marking  an  epoch  in  the  Society's 
annals.  For  the  year  1815  was  an  era  in  the  history  of  our  school 
of  landscape,  as  it  was  in  that  of  the  politics  of  Europe  and  its  alterna- 
tions of  war  and  peace.  From  that  time  forth  the  Continent  became 
again  an  open  field  of  study  to  our  landscape  painters  ;  and,  slowly 
at  first,  though  afterwards  with  rapid  increase,  this  extended  liberty 
in  the  choice  of  subjects  began  to  show  itself  in  the  annual  exhibi- 
tions. Gradually,  but  surely,  the  influence  of  these  new  conditions 
affected  the  character  of  their  art.  This  view  of  Glover's  is  thus  re- 
markable as  being  apparently  the  first  direct  result,  in  our  series  of 
exhibitions,  of  an  artist's  trip  across  the  Channel  after  the  close  of  the 
long  war,  during  which  our  landscape  sketchers  had  been  confined  to 
home  subjects.  He  had  been  among  the  many  Englishmen  who 
visited  Paris  during  the  short  cessation  of  hostilities  after  the  battle 
of  Leipzig  in  1814  ;  and  he  seems,  on  the  evidence  of  this  picture,  to 
have  extended  his  tour  on  that  occasion  as  far  as  the  Rhine.  When 
in  Paris,  too,  he  had  made  the  most  of  his  time ;  endeavouring,  in  his 
own  way,  to  profit  by  the  wondrous  collection  of  masterpieces  of  art 
brought  together  at  the  Louvre  by  the  Emperor  Bonaparte,  which 
had  not  yet  been  dispersed. 

Glover  painted  a  large  canvas  there  in  the  autumn  of  1814.  It 
was  not  a  copy  from  any  one  master,  but  a  composition  of  the 
eclectic  kind.  He  went  about  from  one  picture  to  another,  striving 
to  combine  in  his  own  work  the  various  excellences  of  the  great 
masters.  The  result  was  hung  in  the  biennial  exhibition  of  that 


Cir.  II  MEMBERS    OF    THE    OLD    SOCIETY  305 

year,  with  the  works  of  the  Parisian  artists.  It  measured  about 
eight  feet  by  six  ;  and  he  called  it  the  Bay  of  Naples.  It  is  said 
to  have  been,  after  all,  much  of  the  same  class  as  what  he  had 
always  been  in  the  habit  of  painting.  Stothard,  R.A.,  on  being 
told  what  Glover  had  done,  characterized  it  as  '  charlatanism."  But 
King  Louis  the  XVIIIth  conceived  it  worthy  of  a  special  mark  of 
favour,  and  ordered  a  gold  medal  to  be  struck  for  presentation  to  the 
artist.  Before  it  was  finished,  however,  Bonaparte  returned  from 
Elba,  and  Glover  had  to  fly  to  England,  leaving  his  picture  behind. 
When  the  Emperor  revisited  the  Louvre,  he  too  saw  and  admired  this 
work  of  our  artist's,  and  being  informed  of  the  above  circumstances 
he  fulfilled  the  King's  intention,  by  sending  both  the  picture  and  the 
gold  medal  to  London.  The  picture  was  re-exhibited  among  Glover's 
contributions  to  the  Spring  Gardens  gallery  in  his  last  year,  1817, 
under  the  name  '  Landscape,  composition.' ' 

In  the  mean  time  Glover  had  followed  up  his  first  continental  trip 
by  another  to  Switzerland  in  1815,  whence  come  the  subjects  of  six 
of  his  exhibited  views  in  1816.  He  was  not  successful,  however,  in 
the  gallery  that  year.  '  Glover's  expectations,'  writes  Uwins  on  the 
I4th  of  May,  '  have  certainly  been  most  lamentably  disappointed  ;  he 
is,  notwithstanding,  in  good  spirits,  and  talks  of  going  to  Italy,  where 
he  is  to  make;  according  to  his  account,  3,000  sketches.  I  do  not 
know  why  he  has  chosen  to  fix  the  exact  number,  but  so  it  is.' 2 
He  may  have  gone  there,  but  nothing  from  the  sunny  South  is  to 
be  found  in  the  pictures  of  his  next  and  final  season.  Why  he  then 
retired,  and  what  became  of  him  afterwards,  will  be  related  in  due 
time. 

Although  not,  as  we  have  seen,  devoid  of  reverence  for  the  old 
masters  of  landscape,  and  even  willing  on  occasion  to  employ  his 
hand  in  copying  from  their  works,  John  Glover  was  primarily  and 
pre-eminently  a  student  of  nature.  His  knowledge  was  almost 
entirely  derived  from  his  own  observation  in  the  field.  Thus  '  his 
happiest  pictures,  though  very  satisfactory  as  transcripts  of  the  things 

1  Mr.  Edward  Price,  from  whose  MS.  notes  the  above  account  is  partly  derived,  states 
therein  that  he  saw  the  identical  picture  on  sale  at  a  dealer's  at  Birmingham  in  or  about  the  year 
1853,  and  adds  :  '  The  picture  is  coated  with  varnish  as  transparent  as  glass,  and  it  has  some 
very  large  and  unsightly  cracks,  which  go  through  varnish  and  picture,  and  I  think  the  pre- 
paration of  the  canvas  ;  and  I  was  told  that  they  were  very  apparent  on  the  back  of  the 
picture.'  It  is  also  said  to  have  been  sold  at  the  auction  rooms  next  to  the  British  Institution, 
apparently  at  an  earlier  date. 

•  Memoir  of  Uwins,  i.  45 

X 


306        THE   OIL   AND   WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,   1813-1820      EK.  v 

he  intended  to  present  to  the  eye  as  they  would  appear  in  nature, 
were  not  what  would  now  be  called  works  of  art.'  Such,  at  least,  is 
the  account  given  of  them,  by  his  pupil  Price,  to  Mr.  Jenkins  in 
January  1856. 

Glover,  moreover,  though  no  practical  philosopher  in  composition, 
such  as  Varley  and  the  men  of  his  school,  was  an  imitator  of  general 
effects,  rather  than  special  details,  seeking  more  to  portray  the 
luminous  gradation  of  atmosphere  and  the  leafiness  of  trees,  than  to 
express  the  peculiar  character  of  the  scenes  and  objects  which  he 
depicted.  Relying  too  much,  however,  on  the  same  methods  of 
working  to  produce  the  effects  he  aimed  at,  his  generalization  induces 
the  same  kind  of  monotony  which  is  felt  to  exist  in  certain  line 
engravings,  whose  exquisite  workmanship  cannot  altogether  compen- 
sate for  the  want  either  of  artistic  vigour  in  the  design  or  of  lifelike 
suggestion  of  the  variety  and  the  mystery  of  detail  in  a  real  scene. 
Some  of  these  merits  and  defects  are  observed  upon  in  the  following 
words  (a  little  transposed)  from  a  contemporary  critique  on  one  of  his 
exhibitions.  '  Few  artists  have  equalled  Mr.  Glover  in  the  represen- 
tation of  still  water,'  and  '  when  he  has  to  represent  a  mist  in  a 
mountainous  scene  he  is  particularly  successful.'  But  '  his  trees,  in 
general,  whether  Italian  or  British,  are  too  similar  in  growth  and 
foliage.'  The  latter  '  is  executed  in  a  way  that  gives  the  appearance 
of  finish,  but  with  the  disadvantage  of  sameness.'  * 

Some  account  of  the  methods  and  materials  which  he  employed 
to  obtain  these  results  has  been  preserved  for  us  by  observers  who 
had  the  advantage  of  seeing  him  at  his  easel.  For  he  made  no  secret 
of  his  work,  but  (like  Girtin)  freely  permitted  his  friends  to  watch 
him,  entertaining  them  while  they  did  so  with  easy  and  agreeable 
conversation.  When  he  was  sketching  in  Dovedale,  many  families 
in  the  neighbourhood  used  to  come  to  see  him  paint. 

'  I  think,'  says  his  pupil  Price,  '  that  Mr.  Glover's  method  with  his 
water-colour  drawings  was  always  the  same.  I  think  that  he  invari- 
ably made  a  finished  drawing  in  Indigo,  Indian  Red  and  Indian  Ink  ;2 
and  then  he  coloured  it.  He  had  a  glass  of  water,  and  a  white  plate 
upon  which  he  mixed  his  tints  ;  and  he  worked  with  a  spread  camel's- 

1  Magazine  of  Fine  Arts,  i.  128  (1821). 

2  The  writer  adds  :    '  The  Blue  that  Mr.  Glover  used  has  disappeared  from  many  of  his 
drawings,  from  all  probably  in  which  he  used  large  portions  of  Indian  Red.     I  think  that  the 
Blue  has  not  left  the  drawings  which  were  principally  Blue  and  Indian  Ink.' 


CH.  ii  MEMBERS    OF   THE    OLD    SOCIETY  307 

hair  pencil.  With  this  little  implement  he  produced  a  great  number 
of  drawings  under  a  great  variety  of  expressive  effects,  and  there 
was  a  perfection  of  work  which  none  of  his  pupils  ever  attained. 
With  these  means,  and  rapid  handling,  he  could  express  with  wonder- 
ful truth  a  gleam  of  light  upon  a  wooded  hill  or  passing  shade  across 
a  mountain  range,  or  any  transient  effect.  ...  I  think  Mr.  Glover 
always  used  the  common  drawing  board  and  the  drawing  paper 
by  Whatman  of  that  description.  I  imagine  that  he  never  used 
either  hot-pressed  paper  or  the  rough  paper.  Before  he  com- 
menced his  "  neutral  tint "  he  put  on  the  paper  a  gradation  of  warm 
colour,  beginning  at  the  top  with  water  farthest  from  the  sun  and 
increasing  the  strength  to  the  bottom  of  the  picture,  or  rather  till 
he  was  below  the  horizon.  He  used  Yellow  Ochre  and  sometimes 
Light  Red.  If  he  had  a  soft  cloudy  effect  to  give,  he  made  the  paper 
damp,  and  while  it  was  in  that  state  he  put  in  the  sky.  Then,  with 
his  "  neutral  tint "  of  Indigo  and  Indian  Red  he  put  in  his  distances, 
and  nearly  finished  his  work  as  he  came  to  the  foreground,  reserving 
washes  of  this  neutral  tint  to  complete  his  effect.  After  this  he  used 
colour.  He  used  very  few  colours,  and  those  the  most  simple.  Mr. 
Glover  rarely  used  the  sponge.  Neither  had  he  occasion  to  practise 
any  device  to  alter  his  work.  He  was  not  liable  to  mistakes.  What- 
ever his  head  approved,  his  hand  was  free  to  execute.  He  used  to 
remark  of  an  artist  friend  of  whom  he  thought  highly,  that  "  his 
pictures  of  early  morning  always  ended  in  moonlights."  It  was  not 
so  with  Glover,  for  whatever  he  attempted  he  had  the  power  fully  to 
express.' ' 

As  to  his  handling  and  preparation  of  the  brush,  we  have  this 
further  testimony  from  W.  H.  Pyne  :  '  Who  that  had  not  seen  this 
eminent  artist. at  his  easel  could  have  supposed  the  possibility  of 
twisting  camel-hair  brushes  together,  spreading  them,  to  the  apparent 
destruction  of  their  utility,  yet  dipping  them  in  jet  black  Indian  ink, 
or  grey,  or  such  tints  as  suited  his  purpose,  and  by  a  rapid  and  seem- 
ingly adventitious  scrambling  over  the  surface  of  his  design,  prepare 
the  light  and  elegant  forms  of  the  birch  or  willow,  the  graceful  sweep- 
ings of  the  branches  of  trees  of  larger  growth,  and  the  vast  masses  of 
woods  and  groves,  sparkling  in  their  various  foliage,  in  all  the  bright- 
ness of  a  morning  sun,  or  under  the  influence  of  the  solemn  repose  of 
evening  shade  ?  Yet  his  works  display  these  effects  with  exquisite 

1  J.  J.  J.  MSS. 

X  2 


308        THE   OIL   AND   WATER    COLOUR    SOCIETY,   1813   1820       BK  v 

feeling,  and  with  a  vigour  and  spirit  that  no  style  of  art  could 
excel.1 ' 

It  will  be  readily  believed  that  much  of  his  great  popularity  as  a 
teacher  was  due  to  these  peculiarities  of  his  technique.  '  Glover's 
style  of  execution/  says  the  same  writer,  '  was  hailed  as  a  mighty 
novelty  in  art  ;  it  excited  more  astonishment  the  more  it  was  seen  ; 
it  was  not  one  of  those  nine-day  wonders  that  was  followed  with  the 
blind  furor  of  fashion  and  then  forgot ;  it  rather  excited  curiosity  and 
a  desire  of  imitation  in  a  thousand  admirers.  The  apparently  care- 
less scramblings  of  black  and  grey  ;  the  absence  of  defined  forms  ; 
the  vapourish  appearance  of  the  clouds,  the  mountains,  and  the 
distances  ;  the  distinct  unbroken  patches  of  yellow,  orange,  green, 
red,  brown,  &c.,  which  upon  close  inspection  made  up  the  foreground, 
middle-grounds,  and  off-skip  in  his  compositions,  seemed  entirely  to 
preclude  all  necessity  for  the  labour  of  previous  study.  .  .  .  The 
amateur,  enraptured  at  so  happy  a  discovery  .  .  .  set  about  making 
huge  drawings  in  thC  style  of  Glover.' 2  Thus,  as  had  been  the  case 
with  Gainsborough,  Glover's  so-called  '  style,'  effective  as  it  was  in  his 
own  hand,  became  little  more  than  a  trick  in  the  hands  of  pupils,  not 
'  to  the  manner  born."  In  this  view  he  is  to  be  regarded  as  the 
successor  of  William  Payne.  And  perhaps  Pyne,  who  was  apt  to  be 
severe  on  fashionable  systems  of  teaching,  was  not  unjust  in  calling 
him  the  originator  of  a  bad  taste  among  dilettanti  artists.3  But  it 
would  be  unfair  to  call  him  a  charlatan.  When  he  charged  his  two 
guineas  an  hour  for  lessons,  he  justified  the  high  terms  by  declaring 
that,  although  he  did  not  know  whether  he  could  teach  anything 
worth  the  money,  the  sum  in  question  did  not  exceed  the  value  of  his 
time. 

Glover's  best  works  do  not  often  appear  in  the  .market.  They 
seem  to  have  been  bought,  not  for  profitable  resale,  but  for  the 
possessor's  enjoyment,  and  were  sometimes  destined  to  hang  for  ages 
in  the  houses  in  which  they  were  painted.  He,  on  occasion,  executed 
local  views  at  gentlemen's  seats.4  Pyne  regrets,  in  December  1823, 
that  Glover  had  then  ceased  to  exhibit  topographical  views  of  home 
scenery,  such  as  those  he  sent  to  the  Society's  first  galleries,  in  Brock- 
Street  and  Bond  Street. 

i  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  133.  '  Ibid    132-3.  '  Ibid.  145 

4  Calke  Abbey,  Derbyshire  (Sir  George  Carew*  Bart.);  Randcombe  Park,  Gloucestershire 

(Sir  \Vm.  Guise,  Bart.)  ;  Miserdcnc,  ditto  (Sir  Edwin  Sandys,  Bart.)  ;  Sudbury  Hall  (Lord 

Vernon)  ;  Lambton  Hall  (Earl  of  Durham),  for  example 


Cir.  ii  MEMBERS   OF    THE    OLD   SOCIETY  309 

Among  his  most  admired  works  were  the  view  of  Durham 
Cathedral,  in  Lambton  Hall,  for  which  he  received  500  guineas  ;  and 
the  '  Vale  of  Avoca,'  which  belonged  to  the  Rev.  Alfred  Padley,  of 
Bulwell  Hall,  Nottingham.  Mr.  Price's  father  gave  him  100  guineas 
for  a  view  of  Goodrich  Castle,  and  Allport  the  like  sum  for  an  interior 
of  the  same  building.  A  picture  of '  Loch  Lomond  '  is  also  spoken  of 
as  having  obtained  a  large  price.  The  artist  had  at  one  time  a  room 
fitted  up  with  racks  all  round,  in  which  he  placed  his  works,  grouped 
according  to  price ;  one  for  the  fifty-guinea  pictures,  another  for  those 
at  thirty,  and  so  forth. 

Although  it  is  almost  entirely  as  a  painter  of  landscape  that 
Glover  is  now  heard  of,  his  pencil  was  sometimes  employed  with  skill 
and  effect  in  depicting  cattle  and  other  animals.  In  his  earlier  years 
he  made  '•  exquisite  drawings  in  water-colours  of  cattle  ; '  and  '  the 
effects  of  early  morning,'  of  which  he  was  so  fond,  were  displayed  in 
meadow  subjects  with  cattle  and  the  sun  shining  through  vapour. 
Some  of  his  animal  studies  were  so  solid  and  deceptive  as  to  give  rise 
to  incredible  stories.  It  was  said  that  his  pet  starling,  being  solitary, 
once  tried  to  escape  from  his  room  over  the  back  of  the  cows  in  one 
of  his  large  pictures  ;  and  that  a  cattle-man  who  called  with  a  bull- 
dog had  much  ado  to  restrain  the  animal  from  an  attack  on  a  bull  in 
another.  These  were  life-size  studies.  He  would  also  paint  with 
equal  care  his  little  friendly  birds,  or  a  frog  in  the  dewy  grass.1  He 
etched,  too,  as  above  stated,  some  plates  of  cattle,  which  are  in  the 
spirit  of  the  Dutch  masters  ;  and  his  very  last  contributions  to  the 
Society's  gallery  were  '  A  Cow,'  and  '  Ass  and  Foal,'  respectively 
'  modelled  from  Nature.'  Glover's  works  have  not  often  been  engraved. 
His  view  of  Lambton  Hall  was  effectively  translated  into  black  and 
white  by  John  Pye  in  1816. 

ROBERT  HILLS,  after  taking  the  active  part  above  recorded  in 
the  affairs  of  the  old  Water-Colour  Society,  at  its  foundation,  and  as 
Secretary  throughout  the  days  of  its  pristine  purity,  had,  since  the  ill- 
assorted  union  of  1813,  contented  himself  with  merely  sending  draw- 
ings to  the  gallery.  For  the  last  two  years  he  had  been  absent 

1  Uwins  wrote,  however,  of  the  exhibition  of  1816  :  'Glover's  great  big  cows  have 
entirely  failed,  notwithstanding  the  frog,  the  snail,  and  the  dandelion.  There  happening  to 
be  a  great  many  cows  on  the  side  of  the  room  on  which  these  are  hung,  some  wicked  wit 
said  it  resembled  a  Smithtield  cattle  show,  and  this  opinion  has  been  repeated  rather  too 
often  for  the  interests  of  the  exhibition.'  (Memoir  of  Uwins,  i.  44,  45.) 


3io        THE  OIL  AND   WATER   COLOUR  SOCIETY,  1813-1820      UK.  v 

altogether.  He  had  had  203  works  hung  between  1805  and  1812, 
and  thirty-seven  from  1813  to  1818,  when,  as  an  outside  Exhibitor, 
his  annual  number  was  limited  by  law.  With  scarcely  an  excep- 
tion, they  are  of  cattle,  sheep,  deer  (mostly  fallow)  and  a  few  other 
animals,  not  unfrequently  an  ass  and  foal.  Such  of  the  landscape 
backgrounds  as  are  of  a  specific  scene,  commonly  represent  Windsor 
Park  and  Forest,  scenes  in  the  English  Lake  country ;  in  1811  and 
1812,  Surrey  park  and  farm  scenery  about  Dorking  and  Box  Hill ;  and 
in  1817  and  1818,  that  around  Sevenoaks  in  Kent.  Towards  the  end 
of  the  period,  the  picturesque  farmyards  of  these  home  counties 
become  frequent  subjects.  A  drawing  in  1812  of '  A  Man  perishing  in 
a  Snow-storm,'  with  lines  from  Thomson's  '  Winter,'  was  exceptional, 
but  connects  itself  with  later  drawings  in  which  he  tried  to  give  the 
effect  of  falling  snow. 

He  had  moved  in  1805-6  from  George  Street  to  the  artist  quarter 
north  of  Oxford  Street,  where  he  had  remained  till  1812  in  Newman 
Street,  and  since  then  in  London  Street,  Fitzroy  Square. 

His  industry  had  not  been  confined,  even  in  the  earlier  period,  to 
drawing  for  the  gallery,  and  taking  pupils.  He  had  been  engaged 
also  in  completing  his  set  of  etchings  of  animals,  which  now  amounted 
to  a  vast  series,  the  publication  of  which  extended  from  1798  to  1815. 
They  comprise  studies  of  deer  151,  horses  48,  asses  and  mules  80, 
dogs  55,  sheep  and  goats  108,  swine  36,  oxen  200,  and  groups  of 
cattle  100.  They  were  executed  entirely  by  his  own  hand  from  his 
studies  from  nature,  and  are  remarkable  for  the  knowledge  they  exhibit 
of  the  anatomy  as  well  as  of  the  habits  of  the  various  animals.  The  price 
of  the  series  of  780 '  etchings  was  4O/.  '  Hills's  own  collection  of  these 
etchings,  arranged  and  touched  upon  by  himself,  many  of  them  in 
unique  states,  amounting  to  the  great  number  of  1,241,  may  be  exa- 
mined in  the  Print  Room  of  the  British  Museum,  to  which  establishment 
they  were  presented  by  the  late  Mrs.  Garle  of  Hamilton  Terrace.'  * 

Like  Glover,  too,  he  made  some  essays  in  the  plastic  art.  In  the 
catalogue  of  1815  we  find  the  following  rather  startling  entry  :  '  235. 
From  the  Head  of  a  Stag,  modelled  by  himself;'  explained,  however, 
by  the  name  which  follows,  of  '  R.  Hills '  as  the  exhibitor.  And,  in 
1817,  he  modelled  a  Red  Deer,  in  terra-cotta,  of  fine  character,  repre- 

1  This  includes  two  frontispieces,  the  designs  for  which  were  exhibited  in  1806  and 
1808. 

1  J.  J.  J.  MS. 


CH.  II  MEMBERS    OF   THE   OLD    SOCIETY  311 

scnting  the  animal  in  vigorous  action,  at  that  season  when  it  'is 
dangerous  to  approach  him.  This  his  friends  induced  him  to  execute 
in  bronze,  but  it  appears  not  to  have  been  publicly  exhibited  until 
many  years  after.1 

The  subjects  of  the  above-mentioned  works  give  no  indication  ot 
foreign  travel.  But  at  the  close  of  the  war  Hills  was  one  of  the 
artists  who  took  an  early  opportunity  of  making  a  trip  across  the 
Channel.  Within  a  month  of  the  victory  at  Waterloo,  he  traversed 
the  great  battle-field,  '  note-book  and  sketch-book  in  hand,  recording 
his  hurried  impressions  of  what  he  saw,  and  tracing  the  outlines  of 
Hougoumont,  La  Haye  Sainte,  La  Belle  Alliance,  and  many  a  point 
now  famous  in  history,' 2  when  '  the  mounds  of  the  slain  '  were,  he 
wrote,  '  but  thinly  covered  with  earth,"  and  '  blood-stained  fragments 
of  all  kinds  encumbered  the  ground.'  On  his  return  to  England,  he 
arranged  his  notes  and  sketches,  and  they  were  published  in  a  quarto 
volume  in  1816,  entitled  Sketches  in  Flanders  and  Holland,  'with 
some  account  of  a  Tour  through  parts  of  those  countries,  in  a  series 
of  letters  to  a  friend  shortly  after  the  Battle  of  Waterloo.'  The  work 
is  illustrated  by  thirty-six  aquatinted  engravings  etched  by  himself, 
and  some  of  them  coloured.  A  reference  in  the  preface  to  '  a  former 
series  of  letters,'  apparently  unpublished,  '  descriptive  of  Paris,'  shows 
that  he  also  visited  that  city  ;  and  a  drawing  by  Copley  Fielding, 
exhibited  in  1816,  of  'Dieppe,  in  Normandy,  from  a  Sketch  by 
Ri  Hills,  Esq.,'  gives  a  further  hint  as  to  his  route. 

Though  Hills  had  thrown  up  his  Membership  in  1812,  and  had 
for  a  time  ceased  to  exhibit  with  the  Society,  he  had  not  bid  his  final 
farewell.  His  last  exit  was  not  to  be  until  he  left  the  mortal  stage 
also,  a  quarter  of  a  century  after.  In  1818  we  read  of  his  staying 
with  Mr.  Fawkes  of  Farnley  and  elsewhere  in  the  country,  for  the 
recovery  of  his  health,  and  to  study  deer  character.3 

One  more  of  the  foundation  Members  remains  to  be  dealt  with  ; 
but  he  demands  a  chapter  to  himself. 

'  It  was  purchased  by  the  late  Mr.  Thomas  Garle,  of  Hamilton  Terrace,  in  1841,  for 
2OO/. ;  and  was  shown  in  the  British  division  of  Sculpture  at  the  London  International  Exhi- 
bition of  1802,  where  its  spirit  and  truthfulness  commanded  general  admiration.  See  Elmes's 
Annais  of  the  Fine  Arts  (1818),  p.  117. 

*  J.  J.  J.  MS.  '  Annals  of  the  Fine  Arts  (1818),  p.  528. 


312         THE    OIL   AND    WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1813-1820       KK.  v 


CHAPTER   III 

JOHN    VARLEY 

Varly  a  central  figure — His  pupils — Generosity  to  young  artists— Nature  of  his  teaching 

Exhibited  and   engraved  works— Impecuniosity— Enthusiasm— Blake  and  his  visions  — 
Belief  in  astrology — Published  writings. 

JOHN  VARLEY  was,  throughout  this  period,  a  central  figure,  not 
only  of  the  Society,  but  of  the  school  of  water-colour  painters.  We 
have  seen  that  at  the  birth-time  of  the  former  he  was  living  in  Broad 
Street,  Golden  Square,  and  had  for  some  years  past  been  giving 
lessons  to  amateurs.  In  1813  he  moved  from  No.  15  to  No.  5.  In 
1814  or  1815  he  migrated  to  44  Conduit  Street,  and  in  1817  to  10 
(afterwards  called  io|)  Titchfield  Street,  and  there  built  a  'gallery 
for  the  display  of  his  works.' '  He  also  educated  students  for  the 
profession  ;  and  in  course  of  time  a  goodly  company  of  artists  yet  to 
be  named,  and  some  of  great  distinction,  had  profited  either  by  his 
direct  tuition,  or  enjoyed  the  benefit  of  his  kindly  and  sometimes 
gratuitous  advice. 

His  pupils  lodged  in  his  house  as  apprentices,  his  own  family 
circle  increasing  round  him  at  the  same  time.  Turner  of  Oxford  has 
been  mentioned  as  one  of  his  earliest  pupils.  In  its  proper  place  will 
be  described  his  generous  reception  of  the  modest  stranger  David 
Cox,  who  came  to  him  very  early  in  the  century  for  lessons  ;  and  it 
has  been  stated  above  how  freely  a  little  later  he  gave  his  help  to 
Copley  Fielding  ;  and  how  even  the  art  of  Peter  De  Wint  was  bettered 
by  Varley's  judicious  counsel.  Among  other  Members  of  the  Water- 
Colour  Society  who  derived  like  fatherly  benefit  from  him  were  William 
Hunt,  F.  O.  Finch,2  and  Samuel  Palmer.  John  Whichelo  is  also  be- 
lieved to  have  been  an  early  pupil  of  Varley's,  and  at  a  late  period  of 
the  latter's  career  his  influence  is  said  3  to  have  rescued  from  a  clerk's 

1  Elmes's  Annals  of  the  Fine  Arts  (1817),  p.  551. 

2  An  entertaining  account  of  Varley's  impulsive  and  energetic  way  of  maintaining  disci- 
pline in  liis  pupil-room  is  given  in  Memorials  o/  F.  0.  Finch,  pp.  20,  21. 

3  Casscll's  Celebrities  of  tlie  Century  (ii't>/). 


CH.  in  JOHN    VARLEY  313 

desk  the  distinguished  painter  W.  Holman  Hunt,  now  a  Member  of 
our  Society.  Among  the  more  eminent  of  his  pupils  were  also  John 
Linnell  and  William  Mulready,  and  among  the  less  the  landscape 
painter  H.  B.  Zeigler. 

Many  are  the  stories  of  his  generosity  to  young  artists,  arising  in 
part  from  the  kindliness  of  his  open  disposition,  and  in  part  from  a 
vehement  desire  to  infuse  into  others  the  ardent  spirit  with  which  he 
pursued  his  own  vocation.  One  of  them  has  recently  been  told  of  a 
well-known  northern  architect,  John  Dobson,  who  came  to  London 
from  Newcastle  in  1810  to  obtain  the  best  instruction  he  could  get  in 
water-colour  drawing,  before  commencing  his  profession.  He  went 
to  Varley.  But  '  Varlcy,'  writes  Dobson's  daughter  and  biographer, 
'declined  to  be  troubled  with  young  pupils,  and  at  first  declared  that 
he  could  not  spare  even  half  an  hour.  Observing,  however,  the  intense 
disappointment  of  the  youth,  he  at  last  consented  to  give  him  lessons 
at  five  in  the  morning,  his  time  during  the  day  being  fully  occupied. 
This  concession,  made  at  some  inconvenience,  marked  the  recognition 
of  a  kindred  spirit.  The  master  soon  perceived  the  uncommon 
qualities  of  his  pupil,  and  not  only  agreed  to  give  him  daily  instruc- 
tion, but  invited  him  to  stay  in  his  house,  and  would  hardly  part  with 
him  when,  six  weeks  later,  suitable  lodgings  were  found.' l  Master 
and  pupil  '  worked  all  day  together,'  and  '  a  mutual  esteem  sprang  up 
which  continued  in  after  life.'2  It  is  said  that  Varley  wished  him  to 
devote  his  talent  to  water-colour  painting.  Dobson's  view  of  Seaton 
Delaval  at  the  Royal  Academy  in  1815  has  already  been  mentioned 
as  the  first  coloured  drawing  exhibited  there  of  a  strictly  architectural 
subject  ;  drawings  sent  there  by  architects  before  that  time  having 
been  in  Indian  ink,  without  artistic  effect.3 

John  Varley  despised  secrets.  He  would  freely  tell  what  he  knew, 
to  the  mortification  of  the  illiberal,  and  the  profit  of  most  artists  of 
his  acquaintance.  When  he  met  with  congenial  soil,  he  liked  to 
cultivate  it.  Discovering  a  taste  for  art  in  a  lad  employed  to  clean 
his  boots,  he  took  him  in  hand  and  made  an  artist  of  him.4  His 
enthusiasm  was  infectious.  At  a  house  where  he  gave  lessons  '  not 
only  his  pupils  painted,'  say  the  Messrs.  Redgrave,  '  but  the  very 
servants  took  brush  and  paper  to  try  their  skill  at  landscape  painting. 

1  Memoirs  of  John  Dobson,  by  M.  J.  Dobson,  1886. 

2  Ibid.  s  Supra,  p.  9». 
4  Ex  rc/atioitc  the  late  C.  S.  Yarlty,  John  Varley's  last  surviving  son. 


214        THE    OIL  AND    WATER   COLOUR    SOCIETY,   1813-1820       HK.  v 

Varley  knocking  at  the  door  on  one  occasion  was  delayed  a  minute 
or  two,  and  on  the  servant  opening  it,  the  painter  found  that  the 
delay  had  been  occasioned  by  John's  being  engaged  at  the  moment 
washing  in  a  sky  at  the  hall  table  ;  the  work  did  not  please  Varley, 
so  he  stopped  on  his  way  to  the  parlour,  seized  the  brush,  and 
immediately  began  to  exemplify  the  necessary  changes  in  the  work 
before  him.' '  The  lady  whom  Varley  had  been  engaged  to  teach  on 
this  occasion  was  a  Miss  Edwards,  of  Bedford  Square ;  and  to  make 
the  story  more  complete,  it  is  believed  that  the  footman  whom  Varley 
helped,  afterwards  became  a  professional  artist.2 

He  was  very  outspoken,  and  sometimes  would  give  his  advice 
when  it  was  not  asked  ;  a  dangerous  practice,  but  one  not  always  to 
his  disadvantage,  as  in  the  following  instance  :  '  Varley,'  writes 
Constable,  R.A.,  in  a  letter, '  has  just  called  on  me,  and  I  have  bought 
a  little  drawing  of  him.  He  told  me  how  to  do  landscape,  and  was  so 
kind  as  to  point  out  all  my  defects.  The  price  of  the  drawing  was  a 
guinea  and  a  half  to  a  gentleman,  and  a  guinea  only  to  an  artist ;  but 
I  insisted  upon  his  taking  the  larger  sum,  as  he  had  clearly  proved  to 
me  that  I  was  no  artist.' 3 

Varley's  benevolence  was  not  restricted  to  brethren  of  the  brush. 
He  could  be  kind  to  some  whom  many  artists  regard  as  natural 
enemies.  He  not  only  encouraged  children  when  they  tried  to  draw, 
but  attracted  them  with  cakes  to  gambol  near  him  as  he  sketched 
from  nature,  and  to  scramble  around  for  his  very  loose  halfpence.4 

At  the  period  at  which  our  history  has  now  arrived,  Varley's 
terms  for  teaching  amateurs  had  risen  to  a  guinea  an  hour.  He  and 
his  wife's  brother-in-law  Clementi  had  arranged  to  start  guinea 
lessons  at  the  same  time,  the  one  in  painting,  the  other  in  music. 
Varley's,  and  it  may  be  dementi's  too,  were  probably  worth  the 
money.  It  was  remarked  that  he  could  not  give  a  lesson  without 
some  advantage  being  derived  by  the  pupil  ;  and  he  said  himself  that 
he  could  teach  many  parts  of  his  art  in  a  lesson,  which  it  had  cost 
him  years  to  learn.  For  Varley's  teaching  was  not  mere  instruction 
in  methods  and  processes,  and  the  laying  down  of  rules  to  imitate 
objects  and  paint  in  a  set  '  style.'  It  was  addressed  to  the  mind. 
If  ever  an  artist  painted  with  brains  as  well  as  colour,  it  was  John 
Varley.  '  As  a  preceptor,'  says  Pyne,  '  we  know  of  no  one  to  prefer 

1   Century  of  Painters,  i.  498.  2  Ex  relatione  C.  S.  Varley. 

3  Leslie's  Life  of  Constable,  p.  211.  *  See  Century  oj  Painters,  i.  p.  499,  502. 


CH.  ill  JOHN    VARLEY  315 

to  Mr.  Varley  when  he  "  sets  to  it  doggedly,"  for  no  artist  perhaps 
has  ever  studied  his  department  with  more  abstract  reasoning  upon 
cause  and  effect.' { 

Happily  we  are  not  left  wholly  in  darkness  as  to  the  nature  of  his 
tuition,  and  the  kind  of  truths  which  he  inculcated  ;  for  he  set  down 
the  one  and  exemplified  the  other  in  several  published  writings, 
designed  for  the  use  of  students  out  of  the  reach  of  his  personal 
superintendence.  The  chief  of  these,  which  came  out  in  numbers,  is 
in  its  complete  form  entitled  A  Treatise  on  the  Principles  of  Landscape 
Design,  'with  General  Observations  and  Instructions  to  young  Artists. 
Illustrated  with  sixteen  Highly  Finished  Views.  By  John  Varley. — 
Sherwood,  Gilbert,  and  Piper,  Paternoster  Row.'  The  sixteen  views 
are  engraved  in  aquatint,2  and  printed  in  brown  ink,  two  on  a  plate  ; 
and  the  -eight  plates,  each  with  its  explanatory  letterpress,  were 
issued  as  the  serial  numbers  at  ^s.  apiece.  They  bear  dates  of 
publication  from  'February  20,  1816,'  to  'May  i,  1821  ;'  the  first 
seven,  down  to  the  date  'February  ist,  1818,'  being  published  by 
Varley  at  his  successive  addresses,  the  eighth  by  his  old  friend  J.  P. 
Neale  at '  Bennett  Street,  Blackfriars  Road.' 

The  titles  given  by  the  author  to  the  several  landscapes  (which  are 
of  course  from  his  own  designs)  indicate  to  some  extent  his  classifi- 
cation, such  as  it  is,  of  the  whole  subject.  They  are  as  follow : 
i.  (i  &  2),  Principles  of  Light  and  Shade,  ii.  Principles  of  objects 
reflected  in  water,  iii.  (E)  Epic  [Pastoral]  ;  3  (F)  Pastoral,  iv.  ((;) 
River  Scene  ;  (H)  Ouse  Bridge,  York.  v.  (I)  Sunshine  ;  (K)  Twilight, 
vi.  (L  &  M)  Principles  of  Skies  in  Fine  or  Stormy  Weather,  vii.  (N  & 
O)  Marine,  viii.  General  Landscape  ;  Mountainous  Landscape. 

This  work  appears  to  have  been  the  first  attempt  to  write  sys- 
tematically on  the  theory  of  '  effect.'  The  author  is  not  content  with 
stating  rules  of  composition,  but  explains  the  object  of  each  device  ; 
one,  it  may  be,  to  conduct  the  eye  from  point  to  point  ;  another,  to  arrest 
the  gaze,  or  heighten  an  impression  by  the  sense  of  contrast.  And 
we  find  in  his  writing  the  same  happiness  in  illustration,  and  ready 

1  Somerset  House  Gazette,  i.  13. 

*  They  are  all  engraved  by  F.  C.  Lewis,  who  aquatinted  the  first  plate  of  Turner's 
Liber  Studiorum;  except  the  second,  which  was  by  G.  Lewis,  and  the  eighth,  by  J. 
Gleadah. 

'  Some  of  the  relations  between  Varley's  classification  of  Landscape  and  that  of  Turner 
were  pointed  out  by  the  present  writer  in  a  little  book  entitled  '  Notes  and  Memoranda  respect- 
ing •  l/te  Liber  Sludioi  urn  of  J.  M.  \V.  Turner,  R.A.;  by  the  late  John  Pye;  edited  by  John 
Lewis  Kogcl.'  bvo.  Van  Voor.-t,  1879. 


31 J        THE    OIL   AND    WATER   COLOUR   SOCIETY,  1813-1820       ISK.  v 

wit  in  the  perception  of  analogies,  which  are  said  to  have  characterized 
his  verbal  instruction,  and,  indeed,  his  ordinary  conversation.  Odd 
and  quaint  as  he  often  was  in  his  way  of  expressing  himself,  and  un- 
polished in  style,  he  was  always  apt,  familiar,  and  original. 

Many  of  his  sayings  remained  in  the  memories  of  his  pupils,  and 
some  have  been  handed  down  by  tradition.  '  Nature,'  he  would  say, 
'wan